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KING 4467; NOVEMBER 1951



The reality of the music business is never a pretty thing as companies frequently make decisions to get themselves short-sighted gains rather than making long-term investments in their artists.

To that end with this belated release King Records finally gets its numbering system back in line by removing this single from self-imposed purgatory as it had been originally scheduled for an August release before being shelved to get a hasty cover record on the market instead.

Truthfully it doesn’t make much difference that this got delayed a few months, for who really studies label numbers anyway?

But around here where those numbers matter simply because they make for sensible Label Discographies and so the appearance of this single is definitely a welcome arrival.


Let’s Roll ‘Em And Rock ‘Em
Let’s face it, Tiny Bradshaw’s release order matters less than other rock artists of the day because he was hardly on the cutting edge and boldly existing pushing boundaries with each new trip into the studio, something which would make any deviation from the specific order these songs were cut in a glaring problem when trying to figure out his musical direction.

In fact his musical direction remained laser focused on a few eternal truths as he saw fit – freewheeling good times, an upbeat musical spirit and a slightly zany off-the-wall vocal approach that had become his trademark since rock captivated his soul a few years back.

I’m A Hi-Ballin’ Daddy meets all of those personal benchmarks with the same irrepressible attitude that Bradshaw was known for and while it’s not breaking any new ground at all – and in fact at times is covering ground already trod upon years earlier in some ways – it’s hard to find fault with his game plan even as rock ‘n’ roll as a whole is hurtling forward at the speed of sound.

Maybe nobody in their right mind would draft Tiny Bradshaw as a chaperone for the unruly kids leading rock’s charge up the mountainside… not when he was just as rambunctiously immature in many ways as those half his age… but if it’s true that a musical style takes on the persona of its creators then elder statesman or not, Bradshaw was right at home cutting loose like this and reminding everyone what this genre’s greatest emotional appeal was from the start…

Carefree fun… although for the first time in awhile, at least when it comes to his activities, there may in fact be some unexpected consequences stemming from his outrageous behavior.

I’ve Got To Get Home
When you’re so widely associated with drunken parties as Tiny Bradshaw has been it’s easy to assume that this record is another proud declaration of his after-hours debauchery, right down to the title which (changed spelling aside) would seem to be a confession that they were downing whiskey and club soda all night while dancing naked around the room.

Instead the song has a much different theme to it, one which gives us a rare glimpse of Bradshaw’s concern about his home life when the lampshade isn’t on his head.

The droning train-like horns that open I’m A Hi-Ballin’ Daddy provide a simple shortcut to the set the scene, as Bradshaw is racing back home to try and save his marriage. Of course you’re free to read into the title to figure out why it’s in trouble in the first place, but he genuinely sounds concerned even though the band is going through their usual paces, unfazed by any impending breakup.

Therein lies the schism with the record, the divergent musical and lyrical perspectives which is never quite resolved but largely overcomes because both of them unto themselves are pretty good.

We’ve heard this train motif before of course on a number of Jimmy Liggins’ records, as he seemed to always be riding the rails with his horn section in tow, but after the intro here it’s somewhat subdued until the break and if not for Bradshaw telling us how he’s hopping the train from Birmingham to head off his wife messing around with another guy… or as he puts “some other guy chopping my kindling wood”… we made have needed to inhale the smoke from the engine to know just what the setting for this one was.

Yet the strain, the longing and the urgency in his vocals are authentic and if the story never fleshes out what those wayward activities he’s (temporarily) leaving behind to go back to home and hearth, it doesn’t take much detective work to figure it out with the band whooping it up behind him.

But while their enthusiasm is genuine, their methods can be a little outdated. The quick curly-cue horn riffs behind Bradshaw on the chorus, the thin dry backbeat and even the first sax solo, well played though it is, is not quite as muscular as you’d like. As a result the effect is a curious one, it’s definitely a good song with a good track… for 1948 or ’49. However for late 1951 it’s behind the curve just enough to put it in a precarious position when it comes to holding Bradshaw’s place in the rock lineup.

He manages to keep his spot thanks to his own bubbling personality shining through, although admittedly even that might be the wrong state of mind to have considering his predicament. But it’s an enjoyable performance nonetheless from a guy we have to admit is always welcome at any party and that’s enough to suffice once again.


Keep This Baby Rollin’
Though just a three month wait for this one to come out is hardly much time in the big scheme of things there’s a certain symbolic aspect to it all the same which suggests that Tiny Bradshaw almost didn’t belong to any specific time. Rather he embodied a specific mindset which was appropriate for rock at this stage.

I’m A Hi-Ballin’ Daddy might be a record that skirts the edges of the era in question but both Tiny and the band’s overall competency along with their energetic deliveries put it over without upsetting the balance in the musical universe too much.

At some point however the train he’s riding may derail before he reaches home, although if you were to look at some of the components he uses here while being aware of what is stil to come, maybe you’d hold off on making an imminent prediction of just when that day will arrive.


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