Thursday, October 28, 2010
Oh, Happy Day
I'm repeating myself a bit today, but I hope readers will indulge me, as I've just become the proud owner of a copy of one of my favorite records ever. I have posted the A-side of this 45 before, 18 months before I began this "song poem of the week" project, but the MP3 shared at that time was cribbed from an eBay auction, and I never actually owned the record before this week. This means I can now share a higher quality MP3, can offer up the B-side, and can share scans of the record itself.
The record is "What's She Got (That I Ain't Got)", and I wrote about it at length in July of 2007, in a posting you can find here. Without repeating much of that post, I will say that my love and admiration for this record continues to grow, and in particular I adore the lead vocal, and the masterful bridge, one of the best I've ever heard, made all that much better by a guitarist who had clearly been listening to "Love is Strange", but whose work here is superior even to that great guitar performance.
There is some question in my mind as to if this is actually a song-poem. Carellen Records was a hybrid of sorts, releasing song-poems, vanity records and maybe even some records which were legitimate bids for hit status. And Edith Hopkins, the author of this song, and my all-time favorite song-poet, also commissioned both song-poems and more legit releases.
I'll say this: If this is a song-poem, it's the best one I've ever heard, by a significant margin. If it's a legitimate late '50's release, it's among my favorite records of that era (and that's saying something, as that is my favorite era for pop music). This is, in my opinion, a perfect record.
The flip side, "Cry Baby Heart", is more of a standard late '50's rock-a-ballad, brought to above-average quality by another singularly great vocal by Betty Jayne, who clearly deserved to be a big star (I say this based on this and other records by her in my collection). My view of the likelihood of this being a song-poem record goes way up, when I hear that another take was not attempted, after the bass singer sang a a truly horrible note, right at the end of this performance.