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Answer Records Vol. 8

May 5th, 2011 5 comments

In the eighth instalment of the Answer Records, Wilson Pickett is being told to change his sense of timing, a soul group is trying to escape a hungry lion, and a 1920s singer rails against women with short hair.

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It’s a question of timing
Act 1: Wilson Pickett – In The Midnight Hour (1965).mp3
Wilson is quite specific as to the time that he will condescend to engaging in the passions of copulation. That is, he will not make love to his woman unless the clock strikes 12, in darkness. However, once the time has arrived, he promises that “I’m gonna take you girl and hold you, and do all the [alas unspecified] things I told you”. Oh yes, come the minute hour, Wilson’s “love will come tumblin’ down”, whatever that means, and it will “begin to shine” and so on. But only once it’s midnight, because he wants a bit of privacy.

Act 2:  Ann Mason – You Can’t Love Me (In The Midnight Hour) (1965).mp3
Using the same tune, Ann Mason reminds Wilson that her expectations of him exceed a bit of nocturnal hanky panky. In any case, she argues, the midnight hours “is the only time I’m on your mind” and she is not the kind of girl he can use for his selfish gratifications. She regards herself as the only girl to give it – the truth – to him straight: “You got to love me in the morning, you got to love me during the day. If you want me during the midnight hours then you just gotta love me my way.” Looks like Wilson’s love will have to come tumblin’ down solo unless he is willing to show the straightshooting Ms Mason some affection around the clock.

Let sleeping lions lie

Act 1: The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight.mp3
Ripped off from the South African pop tune Mbube via The Weavers Wimoweh (story in The Originals Vol. 20), The Tokens observe that in the “mighty jungle” the lion (and presumably others of his herd) is sleeping. But instead of keeping quiet in case the lion (and the other wild cats) is awoken, The Tokens begin to yodel, which seems a pretty bad idea.

Act 2: The Dukays – Please Help (1962).mp3
Well, there the careless Tokens have done it: they’ve roused the lion from his sleep with their yodelling, and he is not only grumpy now. The Dukays now face the wakeful  and hungry lion’s wrath. Hence their call to “notify the nation” to help them out of this situation (with a different tune). The Dukays’ problem is that “the lion’s got a notion I’ll make a tasty potion”, and we do hear the fearsome lion roar. So while The Dukays state their appeal for emergency assistance, they have the awareness to keep using their feet, though it’s unclear whether they advise running or dancing, for this is an eminently danceable soul number. No wonder the lion is catching up; indeed, at the end it sounds like the lion won. If only The Tokens hadn’t yodelled.

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Hairdressing advice from Blind Alfred
Act 1: Blind Alfred Reed – Why Do You Bob Your Hair, Girls (1927).mp3
The youth of 1927 was out of control. They were, if you can believe the affront to all that’s decent and moral, bobbing their hair. That’s right, righteous folks, styling their hair in the shape of the bob, like some Hollywood harridan. Next these bobbed jezebels will propose baring their ankles, for shame. So Blind Alfred Reed wrote his protest song and recorded it on 19 December 1927 in Camden, New Jersey. “Why do you bob your hair, girls,” Alfred asks by way of pointing out that they are “doing mighty wrong” because a woman’s hair should be long by divine ordinance, no less. Yes, short hair is revealing and therefore “a sin”, and to keep in fashion “is not God’s advice”. Oh, the iniquities that reside in the decision “to rob the head God gave you and bear the flapper’s name”! So “every time you bob” your hair, “you’re breaking God’s command” and won’t “reach the Glory land”  (there’ll be something about that in that fun loving book of Leviticus, so beloved of homophobic hypocrites with the theological acumen of a dustmite that has failed Grade 1 in the remedial class of the school for slow insects. And 1 Corinthians 11 will clinch it). So keep your hair long, girls. “And when before the judgment you meet your Lord up there, he’ll say: ‘Well done. For one thing, you never bobbed your hair.’”

Act 2: Blind Alfred Reed – Why Don’t You Bob Your Hair Girls (1929).mp3
The title notwithstanding, Blind Alfred is not telling you to ignore what he counselled two years earlier (so this is rather a sequel than answer song). He acknowledges that a woman with long hair “is hard to find” this fine 3 December 1929 in New York City. And the problem really swings both ways: a man wants to get married, but not to a woman who has no hair. And as woman with short hair won’t find as man (if Blind Al was alive today, he might find that some women with short hair don’t want to land a man in the first place). Upshot : marital bliss and procreation down the drain. And that won’t serve anybody. The solution now is to revert from bobbing your hair, girls, and repent so that Jesus will forgive the errors of your hairstyling ways. In other words, go to the confessional, not the salon. And let that hair grow, for God’s sake.

Don’t beat up on Blind Alfred though: it sounds like one of the original socially conscious protest singers is having a bit of fun with his hair songs, rather mischievously overstating the case. He had made his first recordings in July 1927 in the Bristol sessions which launched the careers of Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family. And his end is just tragic: he died penniless in 1956 at the age of 76, apparently of starvation.

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More answer records

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