No tags :(

Share it




You gotta hand it to guys like this… exuberant journeymen, just talented enough to keep at it for years on end without having much realistic hope of breaking through and becoming an established name, let alone a star.

We’ve seen the decidedly large singer Tiny Kennedy taking lead vocals – as a female impersonator at times! – for an averaged sized Tiny Bradshaw already in rock’s journey, now we see him recording in a soon to be famous spot with some stellar Memphis musicians for what is primarily a blues label, though one listen to this tells you the blues never could get Kennedy down for long.

Then again, what it also shows you is that like so many who fail to make it big in rock’s first half-decade, it’s not an unwillingness to rock hard, nor an ability to do so convincingly, but maybe it’s an underlying mindset that still ties you to the past when you should be looking to the future…


Wouldn’t Let Me In
It’s not a person we necessarily expected to see again around here, at least shorn of his lipstick and dress, but we always leave the door open for artists who want to take another crack at rock ‘n’ roll, particularly when they seem to shore up a lot of their weaknesses in the process.

The first time around when singing for Tiny Bradshaw we weren’t very impressed, with either his male or female persona. It was more of a gimmick meant for the stage than the recording studio and the songs, which he co-wrote, were hardly any great shakes even if he’d remained in his natural voice to sing them.

But from all accounts Tiny Kennedy was a fairly skilled singer and we finally get to see some evidence of that on Strange Kind Of Feeling which Sam Phillips cut in Memphis and shipped across the state lines to Mississippi and Trumpet Records, hardly the best outlet for a rocker like this, as they’re a label that only dabbled in rock ‘n’ roll while focusing instead on down home electric blues – Elmore James scoring their most indelible hit with the original Dust My Broom last year.

But when it comes to being heard, you need a record label to put you out there and if that’s all that is available, who is he to complain?

I’ve Got Everything You Need
There’s a lot here to like, as the band, which includes Calvin Newborn on guitar and Wilbur Steinberg on bass, are really locked in with three saxes cascading over Al Nelson’s piano boogie.

It’s a rollicking sound, fully in control yet with an undeniable groove to it.

On top of that comes Tiny Kennedy whose robust voice is situated halfway between shouting and singing, yet never loses the flow of the melody which he rides confidently from start to finish.

Even the story he came up with for Strange Kind Of Feeling is pretty solid. Granted a lot of the lyrics are of the generic one-size fits all variety, but at least the title is interesting in the fact it’s not giving away the plot which finds him perplexed over the fact his girlfriend doesn’t want to see him, causing him to pound futilely on her door hoping she’ll open up and talk.

Ahh, but that’s where things take a small step back. Not a leap backwards, but the forward momentum is stalled a bit because a lot of the premise of this song is built from the remnants of the classic Dusty Fletcher comedy skit turned hit record Open The Door, Richard, the one countless artists from Count Basie and Louis Jordan to Jack McVea and Fletcher himself scored big with back in 1947.

What a minute… 1947? You mean a couple of months before rock ‘n’ roll even existed?!?!

Yup, that’s what I said.

It isn’t that we’re knocking Kennedy for not being more original… he’s only using certain images as reference points after all, which is perfectly permissible in songs. But the real problem is they’re reference points that are going to – or at least should – fly over the head of the current rock audience, or at least a good portion of them.

This indicates that even though the musical accompaniment is more or less up to date for today’s market, and his delivery suggests he’s fully aware of the time that has passed, Kennedy just doesn’t fully understand the audience he needs to reach. The fact is the “jokes” in the lyrics which are the foundation of the song are written in such a way that you need to be eminently familiar with that old routine and if not, you kind of miss out.

Guess who’s bound to have a Strange Kind Of Feeling as they struggle to pick up on these key points to sell the humor? That’s right, a fifteen year old rock fan who hadn’t hit puberty when that song, in any of its versions, was a national sensation. That’s just too long ago. It doesn’t impact the sound of this record, which is still enjoyable, and you still can pick up the plot well enough even if some of the punchlines don’t make complete sense, but it tips you off that Kennedy comes from a different world than the one you exist in which can’t help but undercut his legitimacy every so slightly.

We still like enough about this to recommend for sure, but we’re not recommending you make any plans to see Tiny Kennedy at next year’s rock festival because it’s looking like his expiration date is fast approaching.


The Matter’s Out Of My Hand
There are inevitably packets of fans who have settled on a specific era and style as their personal sweet spot of rock history and wish that the music NEVER progressed past that point.

Even if the march of time was just delayed by another year or two, giving them more records in their comfort zone, they’d celebrate, not caring at all of the irreparable harm it’d do to the evolution of the genre as a whole to remain stagnant too long.

But every style has its own era and most fans, if they’re unwilling to be open-minded, curious and excited about new ideas, will be left behind when that window closes and the era passes.

Tiny Kennedy has squeezed most of his bulky frame through that window for Strange Kind Of Feeling and for that we can – and do – commend him and reward him for it with a positive grade.

But in trying to make it through he got his pants caught and it’s has impeded his progress in a way that isn’t a career killer by any means, but does tip us off that what he relates to best is now in the rear view mirror and so maybe we shouldn’t get too attached to him.

It seems like such a small thing that we shouldn’t make too much about it. After all, the record still works well enough, but in this race as soon as you stop to look back, even just out of the corner of your eye, you’re bound to get passed by, especially for someone like him who wasn’t even running in the lead lap.

Part of what we do here is try and figure out whose days are looking bright in the future and which ones the sun is soon going to set upon. It’s nothing personal, but we’ve gotten good aat seeing the hints. When it comes to Tiny Kennedy we’re sad to say he never really got to enjoy much sunlight in his career, which might be why he felt like he could reach back a few years to when that sun was still rising in his own personal sky, hoping that its rays would warm him a little more before night fell.

it never does though, because tomorrow the sun will rise for somebody else and we can’t hold that off for you or anybody else.

Sorry Tiny, we’ll at least leave the front porch light on for ya. Lock up when you come in.


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