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When covering the quite good top half of this record we mentioned how Tiny Kennedy, after leabing Tiny Bradshaw’s employ earlier this year, landed at Trumpet Records, a small but notable Mississippi label specializing in blues.

It seemed an odd fit for him, but it’s not as if Kennedy had many options.

Whether he was the instigator of this deal or if it was Sam Phillips simply cutting Kennedy on a trip through Memphis and sending the sides to Trumpet himself in hopes of drawing their interest, the fact remains Tiny did veer more towards the blues on some of his sides… this one included.

That alone makes this hardly an essential song to cover here, if not for one added enticement… namely that it shows just how much the record industry still had a side-of-the-road huckster outlook when it came to selling their product.


I Don’t Want To Hear No Music
One of the secondary things we focus on around here in charting the entire History Of Rock ‘n’ Roll one song at a time, is how those songs were marketed.

It is an inescapable facet of the business and thus an important thing to understand when it comes to how record labels often gravitated towards things they could control, such as promotional gimmicks, or choosing to cover someone else’s hits that had a built-in recognition factor, or forcing an artist to release a shallow follow-up to their own past hits. To them these were more reliable than simply trusting good artists to make good records that could be sold on their own merits.

In Tiny Kennedy’s case maybe they had a point. He wasn’t talented enough on the whole to be counted on to churn out one good song after another, even though the top side of this, Strange Kind Of Feeling, was in fact able to stand on its own two feet.

Which may be why Early In The Morning, Baby appealed to Trumpet Records.

For starters it’s more in line musically with the blues they specialized in with its slow 12 bar blues structure, guitar accompaniment and a lack of horns until the very end. But even if you were to classify it AS the blues, it’s not good enough for that genre either to pull in many listeners.

So what do you in that situation?

The only obvious thing… hire a rooster to publicize it!

I Can Hear My Rooster Crow
I suppose Foghorn Leghorn cost too much money and so Trumpet Records had to settle for Elmer, a less bombastic bird who doesn’t talk much, doesn’t fight with dogs and doesn’t have Robert McKimson to bring him to life in cartoons to show on the big screen before Warner-Brothers movies.

Instead he’s got Sam Phillips, who apparently was enamored with this ludicrous idea because he’d bring it back with Rosco Gordon a few years down the line.

The use of the rooster crowing on the start of the song is perfectly acceptable. It’s not nearly as clever they probably hoped it was, but it’s sensible enough since all it’s doing is setting the scene for Early In The Morning, Baby. After that it’s up to Tiny Kennedy to paint a fuller picture which he does without much panache.

The biggest problem is his tone of his voice. He’s not using either of the two approaches he’s shown on record thus far, his normal lusty baritone, nor the falsetto female impersonation. Instead it’s a timid hushed sort of nasal tone, like he’s worried about waking someone which might make sense at that time of day if the lyrics backed it up. But because Kennedy’s missing his woman, there’s nobody around to be disturbed by him singing at a more normal volume.

Meanwhile the plot is as tired as Kennedy sounds, as he’s giving us no reason to care about his loss because we get no insight as to who this girl is or why she left him, unless she’s allergic to fowl or is tired of sleeping in a barnyard.

Even when Tiny gets more declamatory when he hits the mid-section he sticks to the same odd vocal tone that robs it of whatever power it might’ve had, all while the slinky electric guitar sounds half asleep itself, giving us nothing to convey any energy or musical variation. It’s a very monotonous track until the horns come in with a flourish at the coda, but even that’s not the best sign when the record’s ending is the highlight of the record.

When I Want That Certain Thrill
The idea of using this song on a B-side of a far better performance in a much more modern upbeat style is fine unto itself. As a change of pace and a stylistic concession to Trumpet’s blues constituency is understandable.

But Early In The Morning, Baby isn’t strong enough on its own to deserve any attention paid to it by the label, let alone promoting it in such a way to draw attention to it by hyping Elmer… a freaking rooster they suggest is serving as the disc jockey… is ridiculous, not to mention completely misleading.

I can’t imagine a flock of chicks being anxious to hear Elmer’s big opportunity to become a star, but if so they’re sure to be disappointed when all he does is crow once and then probably gets thrown in the fryer for someone’s breakfast.

Yet this is the kind of thing that record companies viewed as “attention-getting” and that, more than the quality of the material, seemed to matter most.

As for the rest of us, we’d rather get a better song… or even just a better vocal and instrumental arrangement for THIS song, than any silly gimmick.

Heck, let all the animals on the farm start their own band and record them, goodness knows it wouldn’t take much for them to beat this one.


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