Discussion:
REVIEW - The Shadows: “I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue” - LEE 202; FEBRUARY, 1950
(too old to reply)
SavoyBG
2020-04-29 13:26:25 UTC
Permalink
https://www.spontaneouslunacy.net/the-shadows-id-rather-be-wrong-than-blue-lee-202/


Youtube -



Lee Records had chosen for their label’s colors black with gray lettering, but perhaps gray with black highlights would’ve been more appropriate.

Though The Shadows, the company’s primary artists, were black, the music they performed fell into the gray area between genres. They kept one foot firmly in the rock world which is what gave them their best chance of standing out, but since they’d started out as a club act singing pop styles that background inevitably shaped many of their musical choices and with rock’s membership becoming ever more stringent they would always struggle to keep up with the current trends.

So for a record whose title adds yet another color to the mix, blue, though it has nothing whatsoever to DO with the blues, let’s call this release Shades Of Gray as we try and pick through their choices and see where they chose right and where they chose wrong in a world that was no longer so cut and dried… or black and white as it were.

To Thrill To All Your Charms
The first time we met The Shadows in December 1949 we couldn’t have been more surprised by the results. Though we recounted their split personnel – three older singers with a long track record trying to achieve pop success who then recruited a younger lead who helped them court rock interest – we still were caught off guard that they managed to balance the two divergent styles so well on I’ve Been A Fool.

Pop-slanted though it may have seemed in comparison to some of the more “authentic” rock vocal records of the previous year, this was still a stellar effort wherein lead singer Scott King managed to inject a strong emotional undercurrent that pulled the others and their more mannered approach into his realm with their breathy harmonies, all of which was helped enormously by a haunting sax that further removed the pop-stain from its fabric.

But of course we know that oftentimes through the years we’ll wind up seeing otherwise incongruous acts catch lightning in a bottle and then be unable to come close to doing so again. Truthfully that’s what we expect here as well… we’d be naïve not to expect that outcome in fact.

Yet that doesn’t mean we won’t be receptive to what they try… every artist appearing on these pages are given the benefit of the doubt going in and it’s up to them to convince us of their authenticity. But while The Shadows manage to at least show glimpses of their potential to become entrenched as a rock group with I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue they also show why our continued skepticism, even after that stellar debut became a legitimate hit, was well founded.


My Head Going Round In A Whirl
As with so many vocal groups in history it’s the lead singer where the majority of the responsibility lays and in the case of The Shadows it’s something they can be thankful for because Scott King again provides them with their ticket to the rock ‘n’ roll dance with another fairly solid turn at the microphone.

That doesn’t mean his choices are all flawless by any means. I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue is a much more uneven performance than what we’d like to see, even if he doesn’t veer wildly between two approaches that are seemingly incompatible with one another.

At its worst there are passages where his pop leanings become all to apparent – the careful enunciation and rounding of the vowels, his easing back on some of the more urgent emotions and, worst of all, his leaning heavily on the silliness of the lyrics about the “grandfather clock” in the bridge – and sure enough those choices can’t help but have you questioning his commitment to rock aesthetics.

But just as you’re ready to toss the baby out with the bathwater here he comes at other junctures with renewed vigor, his voice soaring, his emotions laid bare, his desperation apparent, and you forgive those earlier transgressions… at least until he reverts back to them the next line and promptly dashes your hopes that he’ll be able to overcome his worst instincts and pull this record out of the fire.

That’s what makes those acts who are (pardon the pun) “living in the shadows” between genres so endlessly frustrating to deal with. They give us just enough of what we crave to want to hear more but inevitably when we DO hear more we wish we didn’t because they can’t shake loose of those older habits, almost as if they don’t fully trust in the new sounds even as they remain aware those new sounds are what give them their viability in this era.


Make Me Sigh, Make Me Cry
If Scott King – the most youthful of the group – is uncertain about which direction to go then surely the others, a full decade older, are probably not going to help matters much so we find ourselves rooting for their roles to be downplayed here.

For much of this performance that’s indeed the case. They add some wordless distant harmonies behind King’s lead, some humming in the transitions and only a few sung lines in unison with King on that aforementioned bridge which is the weakest point of I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue, but the barely audible melodic bed they spend much of their time serving up DOES sound fairly nice… not cutting edge in any conceivable way but certainly not off-putting either.

So with them sort of relegated to the sidelines altogether we look to the song’s arrangement in the hopes that the backing musicians will somehow lift this up and allow us to feel less conflicted about showing an interest in this group and their still-unlikely chances of making a go of it in rock.

On their best side the saxophone was almost a co-lead voice alongside King, providing all of the subtle emotional shadings required to really sell the sentiments regardless of what the other voices were contributing. The flip side of that, Nobody Knows, while not as good of a song or performance, added piano and guitar to try and give it a different feel, so they seemed to have at least some awareness of how to make each track distinctive behind the voices.

But here where it becomes even more necessary since this is the weakest material they’ve had to work with they manage to downplay both of those things to the song’s detriment. Howard Biggs’ piano is only keeping time, prancing along without much energy or distinctiveness, and though the horn is given the crucial task of answering King’s lead it’s kept well in the background – to accentuate the haunting nature probably – but that only makes it sound remote and fleeting.

As a result you never get a sense you’re listening to a complete record. It almost seems like a well-rehearsed run-through. They all sound okay, we can’t criticize them for hitting the wrong notes or missing their entrances, if nothing else it’s certainly a professional appearing session from the vocalists on down, but then again there’s absolutely nothing about it to make you want to pay much attention.

Basically it’s a sleepy non-essential record, pleasant at best but utterly inconsequential.


If It’s Wrong To Do The Things I Do
The gray areas on the edge of rock are always going to be at risk of being forgotten in any style. The jazz-based acts peeking over the edge of the rock territory are never going to connect in rock if they keep their feet on the other side of the fence, yet by leaning over it they’re also going to be more likely to get dismissed by jazz fans. The blues artists who flirt with a saucy rocker on the corner are going to be razzed by their compatriots in blues-land for letting one of these younger hussies catch their eye and we know few rock gals are going to be willing to give a weary bluesman a tumble even if they do show interest in making the leap.

Likewise groups like The Shadows – though they did in fact win us over wholeheartedly the first time around – are going to increasingly find it hard to keep our attention if they quickly give back those gains the next time around and have us start to second guess our gullibility for falling for their initial masquerade in days gone by.

Maybe because it had been the first time out for them as a recording outfit we were able to be so easily swayed, but now when they need to build upon that good will with I’d Rather Be Wrong Than Blue they promptly fall back and have us reluctant to give them another chance in the future.

If they’d rather be pop than rock that’s certainly their choice to make but we’d rather be safe than sorry and leave none of us blue by hanging out for too long the gray area between genres where nobody is apt to be satisfied musically, nor is anyone plying their trade in that nether region of indifference likely to be remembered very long.


SPONTANEOUS LUNACY VERDICT: 3/10
DianeE
2020-04-29 17:37:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by SavoyBG
https://www.spontaneouslunacy.net/the-shadows-id-rather-be-wrong-than-blue-lee-202/
Youtube - http://youtu.be/NVJ_X-eyork
Basically it’s a sleepy non-essential record, pleasant at best but utterly inconsequential.
-----------------This is like Trump calling Joe Biden "Sleepy." There
are valid criticisms of both Biden and this record, of course; but
neither one is sleepy. Sampson seems to miss all the emotion in the
lead singer's voice.
Roger Ford
2020-04-30 07:54:20 UTC
Permalink
Post by DianeE
Post by SavoyBG
https://www.spontaneouslunacy.net/the-shadows-id-rather-be-wrong-than-blue-lee-202/
Youtube - http://youtu.be/NVJ_X-eyork
Basically it’s a sleepy non-essential record, pleasant at best but utterly inconsequential.
-----------------This is like Trump calling Joe Biden "Sleepy." There
are valid criticisms of both Biden and this record, of course; but
neither one is sleepy. Sampson seems to miss all the emotion in the
lead singer's voice.
The key word in all this IMO is "inconsequential" which the
overwhelming majority of the records Sampson is reviewing are
(including the Shadows example here)---and of course which the
majority of records ever released are too.

I thought this whole deal was supposed to be reviews of those records
which were important milestones in the evolution of rock 'n' roll and
not a resume of tons of average (and very average) r&b records
that---at the present rate of his posting and his choices of material
----has rightly been pointed elsewhere we are all going to be lucky to
live long enough to see this series get to even 1956 or so.



ROGER FORD
-----------------------

"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
an extra "b" in my e-mail address (***@bblueyonder.co.uk) Please
delete same before responding.Thank you!
--
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus
DianeE
2020-04-30 11:18:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
Post by DianeE
Post by SavoyBG
https://www.spontaneouslunacy.net/the-shadows-id-rather-be-wrong-than-blue-lee-202/
Youtube - http://youtu.be/NVJ_X-eyork
Basically it’s a sleepy non-essential record, pleasant at best but utterly inconsequential.
-----------------This is like Trump calling Joe Biden "Sleepy." There
are valid criticisms of both Biden and this record, of course; but
neither one is sleepy. Sampson seems to miss all the emotion in the
lead singer's voice.
The key word in all this IMO is "inconsequential" which the
overwhelming majority of the records Sampson is reviewing are
(including the Shadows example here)---and of course which the
majority of records ever released are too.
I thought this whole deal was supposed to be reviews of those records
which were important milestones in the evolution of rock 'n' roll and
not a resume of tons of average (and very average) r&b records
that---at the present rate of his posting and his choices of material
----has rightly been pointed elsewhere we are all going to be lucky to
live long enough to see this series get to even 1956 or so.
----------------
I completely agree. I think the whole project is ill-conceived. But I
do like getting to hear these "non-essential" old R&B records, because
unlike Sampson I love the sound.
Roger Ford
2020-04-30 11:44:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by DianeE
Post by Roger Ford
Post by DianeE
Post by SavoyBG
https://www.spontaneouslunacy.net/the-shadows-id-rather-be-wrong-than-blue-lee-202/
Youtube - http://youtu.be/NVJ_X-eyork
Basically it’s a sleepy non-essential record, pleasant at best but utterly inconsequential.
-----------------This is like Trump calling Joe Biden "Sleepy." There
are valid criticisms of both Biden and this record, of course; but
neither one is sleepy. Sampson seems to miss all the emotion in the
lead singer's voice.
The key word in all this IMO is "inconsequential" which the
overwhelming majority of the records Sampson is reviewing are
(including the Shadows example here)---and of course which the
majority of records ever released are too.
I thought this whole deal was supposed to be reviews of those records
which were important milestones in the evolution of rock 'n' roll and
not a resume of tons of average (and very average) r&b records
that---at the present rate of his posting and his choices of material
----has rightly been pointed elsewhere we are all going to be lucky to
live long enough to see this series get to even 1956 or so.
----------------
I completely agree. I think the whole project is ill-conceived. But I
do like getting to hear these "non-essential" old R&B records, because
unlike Sampson I love the sound.
Oh sure I'm the same. Some of these things are new to me and I enjoy
hearing them even tho not many rise much above average. But if its
about honest to God "milestones" then IMO the only REAL IMPORTANTstep
along the road to rock 'n' roll he's reviewed in the past couple of
weeks is "Mardi Gras In New Orleans"


ROGER FORD
-----------------------

"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
an extra "b" in my e-mail address (***@bblueyonder.co.uk) Please
delete same before responding.Thank you!
--
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus
SavoyBG
2020-04-30 12:55:36 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
I thought this whole deal was supposed to be reviews of those records
which were important milestones in the evolution of rock 'n' roll
Don't know where you got that idea. The project is to review EVERY rock and roll single that was ever released.


https://www.spontaneouslunacy.net/about-spontaneous-lunacy/


Welcome to Spontaneous Lunacy, a website designed to tell the entire history of rock ‘n’ roll music from its birth in 1947 to the present day, one song at a time.


The Concept
For all of its enduring popularity rock ‘n’ roll music has been woefully under served in the accurate telling of its history through the years. Of the thousands of books on the subject, countless reissues of material, most with some form of historical annotation included, and millions upon millions of pages of reflections on the music that have been printed in magazines, newspapers and online, the results of all that work by all those people isn’t always informative, is hardly inspiring and oftentimes it’s largely wrong.

Or at least massively incomplete.

The story of rock by this point has really just gotten TOO big for it to be told in more traditional formats and so over time broad generalization has replaced nuance, hyperbole has swept aside objectivity and what remains is now often more folklore than fact. The constant focus on just the bold print headlines gradually reduces the font size of the rest of the story until the entire vast history of rock music becomes just a handful of towering monuments easily recognizable from a distance as everything else becomes shrouded in darkness and at risk of being eternally forgotten.

But rock ‘n’ roll is every bit as much about the obscure artists releasing records that virtually nobody ever heard as it is about the chart topping successes of those who toured the world in front of screaming audiences. Each of them, the stars and the also-rans alike, once were no different. They all entered the studio for the first time as unknowns hoping the record they came up with would change their fortunes while the music they collectively contributed to the idiom would help to shape rock’s ever-changing landscape.

So in that spirit this is an admittedly (over)ambitious attempt to create a living history by presenting them all again, the hits and misses side by side, putting them back into the context they emerged from to try and document rock ‘n’ roll’s evolution song by song as it unfolded over what is now going on seventy years and counting.


The Method
Until recently this type of endeavor wouldn’t have been remotely possible due to the sheer enormity of the topic alone, never mind finding a way to coherently present it all in accessible fashion. But the internet offers opportunities that books and documentaries never could and within the online community there were those, one in particular, who came up with a format that was brilliantly suited to a project of this scope.

Anyone familiar with the website Motown Junkies, where this approach was first used and perfected (and from whom I shamelessly swiped the idea with the gracious blessing of its founder), will know pretty much what to expect here. Every song covered – in chronological order – will get its own stand-alone review examining the music itself… who made it, what it sounded like and how it was received. Because all records ultimately had the same goal – to win over a listener – each one will get equal footing here to do just that, as the most insignificant release will have the same platform as the most enduring hits, a level playing field in opportunity if nothing else.

Along the way the entire context of the times will be presented showing the evolution of the music as a whole, the response in the marketplace, the frequent resistance of society and the ongoing adjustments and experiments by its creators to keep it viable in the face of such obstacles, until hopefully the bigger picture of rock emerges.

To keep it from becoming just a dry history lesson the plan is to have the songs themselves embedded into each review via Spotify (when available) so you can actually hear the music that’s being written about to judge for yourself. Then at the end of every review there will be a score (explained here) ranging from 1-10 which is simply a concise way to sum up my own impressions of the relative merits of each record, NOT in any way meant to suggest what anyone else’s opinion on it should be. In music everyone’s individual opinion is worth no more or less than anybody else’s, myself included, so dissent is not only encouraged but expected.

So explore the site, look into the various scene-setting pages via the Monthly Overviews documenting what else was going on in the world at the time, listen to the songs and form your own impressions of the music and its evolution.

If you’re interested in owning any of the music that’s covered the links for the tracks themselves will be near the bottom of the reviews on Apple Music, and most reviews have a prominent link to other items (mostly CD’s or books), usually through album covers that contain the song in question which will take you that product on Amazon. In both instances if you buy anything from clicking those links this site gets a small commission which will go towards buying a tropical island where I can hold loud and decadent concerts for all my friends and fellow lunatics. No pressure on you though, buy only what really interests you.


A Final Word From The Asylum
In 1957 when rock was already nearing ten years old and approaching its third year of creating such a clamor in mainstream middle-America, The New York Times published a front page article on the phenomenon that they surely hoped was about to run its course.

Their focus was on a concert held by radio dee-jay Alan Freed at Broadway’s Paramount Theater, the first such event on the prestigious “Great White Way”. In it they decried the lowering morals in society which allowed for such tawdry displays and to drive their point home that all of this music was detrimental to humanity they had in the article sensationalistic pictures of the teenage crowds being driven into a frenzy.

Among those interviewed for the story was a psychologist who had observed the show for research purposes and when he emerged from the howling, frantic scene he’d just witnessed he stated incredulously, “It’s like a medieval type of spontaneous lunacy!”.

Yes it is… and that’s a good thing.

Enjoy it!
Roger Ford
2020-04-30 13:51:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
=20
I thought this whole deal was supposed to be reviews of those records
which were important milestones in the evolution of rock 'n' roll=20
Don't know where you got that idea. The project is to review EVERY rock and=
roll single that was ever released.=20
That's ludiicrous!

As Dean just pointed out he's three years in and still only just
easing in to 1950??

It therefore stands to reason that unless he moves closer to a truer
"milestones" model like I postulated (or drastically ups his rate of
posting!) most of us here won't live long enough to ever read those
mid-50's reviews





ROGER FORD
-----------------------

"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
an extra "b" in my e-mail address (***@bblueyonder.co.uk) Please
delete same before responding.Thank you!
--
This email has been checked for viruses by Avast antivirus software.
https://www.avast.com/antivirus
SavoyBG
2020-04-30 13:56:40 UTC
Permalink
Post by Roger Ford
Post by Roger Ford
=20
I thought this whole deal was supposed to be reviews of those records
which were important milestones in the evolution of rock 'n' roll=20
Don't know where you got that idea. The project is to review EVERY rock and=
roll single that was ever released.=20
That's ludiicrous!
As Dean just pointed out he's three years in and still only just
easing in to 1950??
It therefore stands to reason that unless he moves closer to a truer
"milestones" model like I postulated (or drastically ups his rate of
posting!) most of us here won't live long enough to ever read those
mid-50's reviews
I agree, he'll never finish at his current rate of just 4 reviews per week. He would need to step it up to like 50 reviews per week. I want to see what he does with the thousands of obscure rockabilly records that came out between 1955 and like 1959.
Loading...