b/w Beautiful Women
(Written by Gene Henslee and Mary Yielding)
The one and only Motown appearance of Gene Henslee, and the Mel-o-dy label’s third out-and-out Country & Western outing, this is among the rarest of these weird little curios.
It’s actually quite good fun to start out with, rockabilly rhythms rolling along with more than a hint of early Elvis, the opening fiddles giving way to some pedal steel guitar and to Henslee himself, whose anodyne but tuneful voice suits the melody of the song if not the sentiment (a recognition of the error of the narrator’s ways, and an acknowledgement that it’s now time to pay for past mistakes). When we get a 12-bar blues break just past the one minute mark, with the stomp of boots and slap of bass both briefly audible, this is surprisingly good.
Then, our Gene has to go and ruin it. All but the guitar is faded right down an angelic chorus of female backing vocals strikes up, and Henslee begins recanting his sins in spoken-word sermon fashion, making his peace with the Almighty with as much feeling as if he were reading Him the weekly shopping list. It’s clumsy, stagey and devoid of any passion at all.
A real shame, as it kills any momentum the record had previously built up stone dead. As if in recognition of this bad decision (and neatly mirroring the subject matter, though surely accidentally) the song then abruptly draws to an embarrassed close, leaving it to clock in shy of two and a half minutes’ duration having had nowhere near the emotional impact it was looking for. A pity – this could really have been half-decent, too.
MOTOWN JUNKIES VERDICT
(I’ve had MY say, now it’s your turn. Agree? Disagree? Leave a comment, or click the thumbs at the bottom there. Dissent is encouraged!)
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