No tags :(

Share it

KING 4417; OCTOBER 1950



Considering how long it took veteran bandleader Myron “Tiny” Bradshaw to re-emerge on the national recording scene after a long stint in the wilderness following his initial opportunities another lifetime ago it’s not likely that Bradshaw was complaining about King Records flooding the market with his releases in the fall of 1950.

After all, it was they who got him his first two official hits these past few months and though the second of those literally just entered the national charts as this, its follow-up, was released Tiny must’ve realized it was far better to have too many great records available than having none at all.

Still we gotta say just for the record, their haste in issuing this only a month after the last single surely cost them a third hit for whatever that’s worth.


Last Night And The Night Before
Rock artists, like books, don’t like being judged by their covers. The genre is rife with acts who haven’t fit the prototypical definition of who a star should be, perhaps none more so than Tiny Bradshaw, always sort of a musical version of Gomez Addams after consuming far too much caffeine.

In the fall of 1950 Bradshaw was a 45 year old who still acted like he’d just reached his teens, all wide-eyed gangly enthusiasm, yet he’d led one of the best club bands for the last fifteen years, never attaining stardom in any style of music yet someone who was deemed reliable enough by the biggest stars in music to be entrusted to back them on tours.

When rock ‘n’ roll came along it was a match made in heaven… except of course for his rather lengthy résumé with professional jobs as a drummer dating back to before a lot of his peers in the field had even been born.

King Records had been the ideal landing spot for him because of a fellow pre-rock alumnus who’d made the transition to this new field, albeit behind the scenes. With Henry Glover producing (and often writing as he does here), the pair crafted an indelible image for Tiny as the master of ceremonies for some wild musical parties such as Breaking Up The House which leaves no doubt as to its intentions… musical or otherwise.

You might think that this was something written in response to his recent success with Well, Oh Well, his big hit from the spring, and while maybe that was taken into consideration the more likely reason they came up with this is because breaking up the house is what Tiny Bradshaw does best.


Everybody Gets Real Tight
The formula for these things are pretty basic and still pretty potent… pounding piano, hand claps to emphasize the beat, horn riffs in the cracks and an extended squealing break to frame lyrics celebrating decadence with a catchy semi-spoken delivery that features some breaks where he sings in a staccato delivery, all of which is designed to keeping pounding away on your senses until you submit to their will.

Essentially Breakin’ Up The House is a fairly predictable song, even bordering on generic for this specific artist. The lines themselves are colorful, but hardly innovative, they’re designed to set a scene rather than tell a story with Glover knowing that the scene itself – and the audience’s desire to take part in such a hedonistic affair – will be enough to sell it as long as each part fits into that grander theme.

Does that sound like an insult, because it really isn’t. The idea itself might not be original and it relies a lot on basic formula but the parts themselves are all really well honed. After all, you need some way to lay down the beat and though drums are the obvious choice, having others rhythmically clapping their hands makes it seem more like a large social gathering than something done in a sterile studio making it even more evocative of the scene they’re painting, so why not use that technique?

Similarly, the sax blowing responses to the vocal lines beefs up the sound while seemingly affirming the messages Bradshaw is imparting, doubling down on the theme in a way that’s just subtle enough not to be insulting.

But yeah, it’s a lot of simple tricks because simple gets the job done here. Tiny never had the best singing voice so they let him converse rather than project, playing up that genial host persona he’s already perfected. Even the two female voices – probably Mary Lou Greene and Dorena Deane who got co-leads on other songs from this session – answering him as he’s shouting out the title line gives the impression of a packed house.

The one thing you’d like is a little more debauchery in the lyrics themselves. They hint at what’s going on, even give brief glimpses at the festivities, but they mostly keep it PG rated and leave it to your imagination to fill in the details.

If your imagination isn’t quite up to that job then the band will provide a little inspiration for the kind of racy details you need to conjure up.

Raising The Roof
It’s really a shame that Bradshaw’s band of this era didn’t have a name of their own to better promote their musical acumen. You’d think any group which included such stalwarts – and colorfully nicknamed – figures as Rufus “Nose” Gore on tenor, Jimmy “Bee Bee” Robinson on piano and Calvin “Eagle Eye” Shields on drums would’ve come up with some moniker for the outfit, Bradshaw’s Bombers or Tiny Bradshaw and His Giants, but instead they were largely anonymous at the time.

But what they lacked in publicity they made up for in enthusiasm, for as much as Tiny himself is encouraging the listeners to tear things up, it’s really the band who are guilty of Breaking Up The House with their playing.

Robinson’s intro pierces the speakers by pounding away on the treble keys as the door to this shindig opens. Shields lays down a crisp back beat to give the hand claps added heft and keep them on track, never letting up for the entire song, a thankless job but one he carries off without complaint.

But it’s Gore who is the standout on this record, his sax adding the punctuation early on before unleashing a top flight solo that allows the record to meet – if not transcend – its stated goals. He’s displaying all of his techniques here starting with some rough textured shrieks before picking up a melodic thread which keeps the same grit in his playing, stretching notes out more as he goes along as he simultaneously climbs up the scale until he’s squealing away without a care. When Bradshaw returns on vocals it’s almost jarring to hear because as energetic as he is, it’s no match for what just transpired.

The horn gets a second, more subdued solo (by comparison) two-thirds of the way through, this time focusing almost exclusively on the melodic progression which is used to wind the excitement down a notch so Bradshaw can wrap the song up without seeming to jump off a cliff to do it.

This is a textbook arrangement for a party anthem circa 1950 and Glover doesn’t skimp on any of the required elements while the band carries out their parts as if they were actually breaking new ground with it rather than painting by numbers.

Keeping things simple sometimes is the most effective method after all.

The Whole Family Too
Despite its overall quality, the timing of this release coming so soon after the most recent hit, the similarly themed I’m Going To Have Myself A Ball, sort of suggests that King Records still wasn’t convinced that Bradshaw would have staying power and sought to capitalize on his current popularity before people caught on that he was a somehow out of place in rock due to his age and prior experience.

Once again they also seemed to be hedging their bets by pairing up a rocker with a more staid pop ballad, this time If You Don’t Love Me Tell Me So, which audiences clearly DID… tell them so that is, preferring the boozer to the snoozer.

Bradshaw of course would go on to have a longer reign as one of King Records’ top artists than anyone anticipated and if Breaking Up The House sort of got lost in the shuffle at the time it’s perfectly emblematic of the niche he carved out for himself once he got there, establishing his brand of controlled mayhem that would ultimately be his musical epitaph when all was said and done.

So while you might be inclined to get on them for repetition since they’re hardly reinventing the wheel here, when he boasts about fifty-five people coming through his door to party you still hope that you’re among them if they’re going to have this much fun every night.


(Visit the Artist page of Tiny Bradshaw for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)