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They say Youth Is Wasted On The Young and if ever there was a person who proved that motto might in fact be true it was Tiny Bradshaw.

After years of floating around the periphery of big time music circles as a respected bandleader and songwriter who never seemed quite able to break through to widespread acclaim he was finally enjoying the fruits of his prolonged labor at the tender age of 43 after scoring his first charted hit in the spring.

This would be his second hit and considering the circumstances he found himself in the theme of this record was entirely appropriate for a man in the midst of celebrating a second childhood of sorts.


If You Ask Me To Take My Pick
Sometimes it’s inevitable that we read a little too much into what does and doesn’t get recorded and released at certain junctures of an artist’s career while attempting to try and surmise their artistic ideas seven decades after the fact when it’s all we really have to go on to get inside their heads.

Tiny Bradshaw has generally been easier than most to get a bead on, because he seemed to wear his emotions on his (musical) sleeve. At his best he was simply looking to have a good time, play the congenial master of ceremonies and look the other way if there was any inappropriate behavior going on behind closed doors, be it drinking, smoking, screwing or, as was the case with Well, Oh Well, hijacking an older song, stripping it for parts and riding off in the reconstructed hot rod.

But while this side of his second follow-up to that breakthrough hit definitely follows suit in that it’s a shameless plug for wanton hedonism and non-stop partying, the other side is a treacly pop ballad called Butterfly that he may have recorded as an inexpensive anniversary present to his wife, since it’s credited to one Patricia Bradshaw, presumably his missus.

But there’s also a worrisome outside possibility that Tiny was still harboring dreams of crossing over into… what, being a cut-rate wedding singer?

Fear not though, for with the success of I’m Going To Have Myself A Ball his course was clear, he’d leave the tender crooning to some tuxedoed dork while the first dance at the reception is going on. Meanwhile the after-party to that party is being set up in some low rent dive where, after all the pictures are snapped and the presents are piled into the trunk, the new bride and groom and other assorted miscreants will gather so they can really live it up.

When they roll up to this bash you can rest assured that Tiny will hand them their first drink before their feet even touch the ground as they get out of the car.


Gonna Give You Some Good Advice
There’s nothing particularly inventive about this ode to “gettin’ down”, but nor does there have to be as long as the lines are reasonably clever and the enthusiasm is genuine.

Not surprisingly Bradshaw gets passing grades for both, painting a broad but still accurate picture of the most important requirements for these kind of wild affairs, which is simply a total lack of inhibition along with a willing and shapely partner.

Aside from a title which leans too hard on proper English, I’m Going To Have Myself A Ball lays out the game plan is easy to follow instructions in case you’re a novice at these types of interpersonal carnal relations and are listening to a record seeking advice.

His utter lack of concern for proper decorum and pacing yourself in life extends to the way he sings a song as Bradshaw is eager to pass along his “knowledge”, presumably as he’s sloshing down another drink while unzipping his fly, but he somehow manages to remain on his feet while the record plays.

The lyrics during the verses are pretty solid but seem to cram a lot of words into each line, though that could be on account of his rather unusual rat-a-tat-tat half-spoken delivery which makes him sound like a less straitlaced Walter Winchell at times.

He’s at his best dispensing tips about prioritizing fun and pursuing racy hijinx, though he omits any off-color translations of the particular activity he’s clearly referring to at the start, but in spite of the lack of details it actually holds up pretty well. He’s on point when saying “life’s too short, so don’t make it sad” and “If you work and work and have no fun you’ll find out you’re the crazy one”, all while emphasizing the far better alternative which is to seek out good times with the same dedication that most devote to trying to get ahead in life.

Of course it doesn’t hurt that this kind of hedonism plays right into rock’s primary attitude and so he’s got a receptive audience for this message if nothing else and if he does sort of couch his meaning in the last stanza, maybe to appease the over-protective parents or spouses of any wide-eyed listener, his voice tells you that he for one is not putting anything aside for a rainy day as he recommends.

Instead he’s blowing it all as soon as it comes in even as the women he’s spending it on are using – and practically abusing – him in the process (and in the bedroom), ensuring that he’s gonna leave this world with a smile on his face.


There’s One Thing You Can Always Do
Naturally you can’t undertake this sort of activity without some help and I don’t mean simply a sexual sparring partner.

What he needs, particularly since Tiny Bradshaw gave up drumming years ago, is a band that embodies the same go-for-broke mentality that he does in order to surround him with the appropriate musical stampede.

In that regard I’m Going To Have Myself A Ball is something of a mixed bag, though one which ultimately satisfies after a slightly underpowered start in the arrangement.

The key to songs like this in 1950 is having a brash tenor sax and an unrelenting rhythm section and though they have both of those in the studio they’re not cutting loose from the start even though Bradshaw sure is, his first word being a drawn out “Welllllllllllll” before launching into the song at full speed.

By contrast the rhythm is carried more by hand-claps and piano than a bass drum and snare kick it really needs. The pace is fine, they’re not neglecting the beat, just lessening its impact slightly by the methods they use to carry it out.

Worse though is Rufus “Nose” Gore’s early tenor sax interludes which are clearly being done this way so that his later more rambunctious solo will have more impact but while gradually building to a climax is a sound theory, when confronted with a singer who takes everything at top speed sometimes those theories have to be adjusted. Had Gore simply started off honking up a storm it’d have gotten you into this much quicker.

Once they get up to pace though everything works quite well, as Gore’s third and fourth showcase – behind Bradshaw’s wailing no less – are exactly the kind of paint peeling workouts that this needs to fully get the point across.

Yet for all of the solid professionalism of the band this record is carried by Bradshaw’s vibrant joy and it’s entirely possible they felt that if the musicians matched him – or tried to surpass his exuberance – then the control panel would’ve blown up and they’d have no record to press, meaning no record to sell and thus Tiny Bradshaw’s long and winding career would’ve been short one more well deserved hit.

You Sure Don’t Know When You Got To Go
Sometimes we’re critical of an artist lapsing into formula, especially soon soon after hitting big, but with Tiny Bradshaw this is clearly playing to his strengths – as a writer, as a rather limited technical singer, as a bandleader and most importantly as a human being who remained irrepressibly optimistic throughout the ups and downs of his career.

Now that the years of hard work had finally paid off, why shouldn’t he be allowed to enjoy it? I’m Going To Have Myself A Ball does just that, letting him revel in his newfound stardom, this being cut just as his first hit was climbing the charts in June, and inviting us to celebrate along with him.

While other artists in rock’s early years did more to establish the cultural benchmarks of the form and to establish the musical innovations and performing styles that would form the basis of much of what followed, Bradshaw was the one who perfectly embodied the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll from the very start and this was yet another sign that crucial mindset he possessed was in absolutely no danger of being diffused any time soon.


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