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KING 4547; JUNE 1952



Not every decision you make in life will turn out well, but that doesn’t mean all of those failed ideas were bad ones to attempt.

You should always try new things in life, experiment with something different and make sure you never remain completely stagnant with your activities. Change is good.

Tiny Bradshaw epitomized that outlook, going from upscale blues and down-home jazz to rock ‘n’ roll over the course of a career that’s lasted more than twenty years by now, but not even he was infallible with his choices.

Here is concrete proof of that.


Hold On If You Can
We’ve covered twenty sides put out by Tiny Bradshaw at this point and in almost all of them we’ve mentioned he was never the most skilled singer, nor did he pretend to be.

He was a gregarious vocalist who could carry a tune, but whereas some singers with great voices were like disciplined waiters balancing a silver tray full of crystal champagne glasses through a crowded room without incident, Bradshaw was more like a fullback carrying a football across the goal line on a muddy field. He’d score the touchdown for you, but it wasn’t going to be pretty.

So it stood to reason that he’d consider bringing in guest vocalists to give his records a new wrinkle, maybe allow him to expand his thematic scope or in the case of Tiny Kennedy use a different perspective altogether.

REALLY different…

Unfortunately as compromised a singer as Bradshaw could be from a technical standpoint, Kennedy wasn’t exactly raising the bar in that regard. Described as “big and fat”, he doesn’t seem blubbery, but is definitely a large man which on stage was the selling point of his dual voice routines like Rippin’ And Runnin’ whereupon he took the role of a female protagonist to engage in a battle of the sexes with his usual deep voice lead.

Now in the future Bobby Marchan would manage to pull off this feat on record to often brilliant effect, but Marchan, a real-life transvestite, could sing circles around Kennedy in either voice and if you did see him/her on stage he looked a whole lot more convincing as a woman as well.

Without the accompanying visuals of the hulking Kennedy portraying the fairer sex the humor was left to be conveyed merely by the lyrics and sassy performance itself, something that might’ve at least been helped by knowing that Kennedy was playing both roles.

But since that information was not divulged on the label you would’ve had to have guessed that part yourself using your own “womanly intuition”, which is why you can see how this stab at creativity failed to reach any of its objectives.


I’ve Heard This Jive Before
The stuttering horn intro gets this out of the blocks nicely but as soon as it slows down to let the “female” rendition of Tiny Kennedy into the spotlight the horns revert back to a mid-40’s support role and while there’s a few stray guitar notes by Willie Gaddy that keep it within sight of 1952, it’s fairly obvious they’re downplaying the musical attributes to focus on the vocal switches.

Let’s say that Kennedy’s female voice is reasonably effective… a fair assumption as without knowing the background you’d be prone to look up a picture of Tiny Kennedy to see if it was a male or female… there’s still a difference between being effective at portraying a woman and being effective at putting across a song in an appealing way.

This is not a case of the latter as the woman he’s playing is annoyed at the man played by Kennedy’s real life persona without there actually being anything humorous about her complaints.

I’m not saying the guy’s shortcomings don’t deserve to be called out, he sounds like a lazy, inconsiderate boor, but rather the whole point of Rippin’ And Runnin’ is to get you to crack a smile and when none of the lyrics manage to do that (alright, maybe the garbage can line can at least get a smirk), it becomes a pretty big obstacle to overcome.

Which brings us back to the REAL point of this composition, the female impersonator gimmick, and how Kennedy may be credible in the role but it’s nothing more than a TV sitcom acting job. To put it another way, if it were a real female singing this in that exact manner what would be your response to… the voice itself… the delivery… the characterization?

At best you’d shrug noncommittally and turn your attention to the guy… who of course is also Tiny Kennedy and also rather uninteresting. His voice itself is trying to play up the humor as well but there’s nothing in his role that’s actually funny either. No wisecracks or putdowns, no outlandish excuses for his lack of financial support, no comical double-talk when he’s being dressed down for his behavior.

Even the title, which on the surface at least promises some uptempo excitement, is entirely misplaced here, not living up to the image such a combination of words elicits, nor making any sense within the story itself.

To go back to the TV sitcom comparison, this is one of those shows from the old days you’d put on in desperation and five minutes in would be asking if it was supposed to be a comedy.

At least those had laugh tracks to fool you into thinking someone found it to be funny, this has nothing going for it other than the promise that after three minutes you won’t have to hear it any longer.


My Dress Is Raggedy
Hopefully a year or two from the time this goes up this “issue” will no longer be making headlines, but in America in 2023 there’s an all-out war against the supposed “danger” of allowing drag shows to exist.

Yeah, you read that right… men in dresses and lipstick performing campy skits are somehow considered fearsome by those seeking to appeal to a political constituency comprised of inbred bigoted imbeciles.

Now granted, Rippin’ And Runnin’ may seem on the surface reason enough to ban such heinous acts in the public sphere, but it’s not the female impersonation that is the problem here, but rather the lack of quality content… a far greater offense.

Though admittedly the record itself is pretty bad, the one thing it doesn’t do however is cause you any actual harm to listen to it, or even to see Kennedy in a wig and girdle singing it.

On the other hand if Kennedy was hiding a machine gun under his dress to shoot up a fourth grade classroom that would be another story, although then it’d be something those same people complaining about his high heels would altogether refuse to address.

If nothing else though at least records like this remind us that once upon a time, even in a far more prurient America than exists today, men were allowed to wear dresses without self-appointed moral guardians getting their own panties in a bunch over it.


(Visit the Artist pages of Tiny Bradshaw as well as Tiny Kennedy for the complete archive of their respective records reviewed to date)