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KING 4583; NOVEMBER 1952


Considering they’ve been soiling their reputation with pop song covers and dainty arrangements as of late, it’s at least nice to see the guys getting back to their roots.

Whether or not you find the menu itself appealing may say more about your background than your musical tastes, but one look at the writing credits should at least alleviate one concern as this isn’t material coming from an outside source and instead marks a rare occasion where a valued member of Todd Rhodes’ band gets to contribute a song of their own.

Antacids sold separately.


Make It Right
Say this about The Toddlers, their leader must’ve been pretty good to work for because most of them stuck around for a very long time.

Of the members, it’s safe to say that saxophonist Hal Dismukes – known variously as Holly, Hallie, and Ralph (jes’ making sure you’re paying attention) – was one of Todd Rhodes’ most valuable assets over the years, whether taking solos or just providing steady atmosphere behind him.

But Hog Maw And Cabbage Slaw is one of the only times we get to see Dismukes chip in with a song of his own and if nothing else it shows that he was in the right frame of mind, as topically this goes well with their past ode to a staple of the Southern Cuisine, Pot Likker, which maybe not coincidentally was their last national hit under their own name back in 1949.

This one’s not any threat to join that list, certainly not in 1952 when the topic and the style they present it in are slightly out of date, but that doesn’t mean its release doesn’t serve a valuable purpose, as it’s actively trying to forge a connection with an audience that may have been wondering if Rhodes was leaving them behind as of late.

But then again, he tends to do this fairly regularly, coming up with more down to earth material about booze, food or sex after repeatedly failing to gain entry into black tie and tails affairs.

Needless to say, those dressing for dinner won’t even know what to do with the food he’s serving this time around.


Eat All Night
King Records listed this on the label as an instrumental, but there’s a long sung refrain which not only kicks this off after the horn intro, but gets reprised twice later on, thereby making it a case of not adhering to the truth in advertising adage.

That said though, it’s obvious this was designed as an instrumental showcase, particularly for the horn section which is understandable considering that’s Hal Dismukes’ address in the band’s neighborhood.

Not surprisingly he makes sure to spread the love around, even letting trumpeter Charlie Hooks get a few more shrill contributions which are most notable during that intro and the start of the first sax solo by longtime tenor Louis Stevens which is the best section of the record by far, blowing away with gritty authority for an extended stretch.

Dismukes takes the second solo after another vocal refrain and while he plays well, the alto is generally not powerful enough to knock you on your ass unless you’re Earl Bostic. It starts off kind of flighty too, but the more it goes on the more the sound seems to swell and by the time he wraps his part up you’re licking your lips. Call it an acquired taste compared to the more lusty tenor, but he earns your admiration if nothing else.

For the what WILL knock you on your ass, leave that to the Hog Maw And Cabbage Slaw itself, a dish that is not for those with weak stomachs, especially as they add some more food to the plate – chitlins and cornbread – and instruct you to eat all night.

Yeah, that’s not gonna happen. If you ate the meal they’re serving all night, you’ll spend all day tomorrow in the bathroom. There are some things you eat in moderation and this meal is definitely one of them.

But we’ll take second helpings of the overall atmosphere they’re cooking up with the record itself, especially if they offer a few more spoonfuls of Teddy Buckner’s baritone which only gets a brief moment to shine at the end, even though it does provide the solid underpinnings of the earlier riffs led by others. Also if you want to throw in a little more spice via John Faire’s guitar licks, we’re not going to complain.

Notably quiet throughout all this is Todd Rhodes himself, whose piano – if present at all – takes a distant back seat in the rhythm section to Benny Benjamin’s thudding drums and even Joe Williams’s fairly prominent bass which gives this a nice bottom throughout the performance.


The band is as tight as ever and thankfully what they play is more suited to our palette than a lot of their recent outings, but let’s be honest, The Toddlers aren’t running a five star restaurant any longer, at least not for the cutting edge sounds of today. The kind of gritty, grimy, greasy music that would have us filling our plates again and again is beyond their reach nowadays, more by choice than a lack of talent.

But as far as a clean well-run place to get off the road and scarf down a meal that will hit the spot, you could much worse than this joint and after hearing a few too many records from them which were served with polished silverware and fine linens, it’s good to see the boys aren’t above still using the kind of down home ingredients rock ‘n’ roll was built on.


(Visit the Artist page of Todd Rhodes for the complete archives of his records reviewed to date)