B-side of Jimmy Brown
(Written by Dorsey Burnette and Joe Osborn)
B-side of Jimmy Brown
(Released in the UK through EMI/Tamla Motown)
On the face of it, Everybody’s Angel is a stronger proposition than the A-side, Jimmy Brown; it’s jaunty, uptempo pop music marked out with strummed guitar and a rockabilly chorus. But what’s its intention?
The girl at the centre of the song – the eponymous “angel” – is described in bitter terms, sure, but also so generally that this could very plausibly be a song about (a) prostitution or (b) cats. Dorsey, ostensibly playing the jilted boyfriend, never brings a hint of rancour to his vocal, which sounds almost laudatory rather than critical of this fickle, ill-defined one-time object of his affections. Clocking in at just over one and a half minutes, this is a self-indulgent kiss-off combined with a warning for the woman’s new squeeze (though it’s not for his ears, Dorsey referring to “him” in the third person throughout) that amounts to an extended “Hey, it’s your funeral, pal!”
It’s not particularly attractive, but then Dorsey’s acting doesn’t lend itself to a study in the bitterness of recently-trampled hearts, and the positively gleeful tone he adopts – to go along with the bouncing, danceable band track – makes it sound as though Dorsey’s narrator is genuinely grateful to be shot of her. Which, I guess, is the way the narrator’s trying to persuade us he feels.
Only once does the mask slip; the façade cracks in a Beatlesque interlude at the fifty-second mark – I gave her love I thought that no-one else could give, he moans, and got nothing in return / It hurts to know that her love was never real / I can’t deny the truth, or help the way I feel!
But that apparently accidental burst of brutal honesty makes the rest of the record feel rather pat, either forced or indifferent (you wouldn’t think you could confuse those two things, but Dorsey somehow manages it here), and it doesn’t feel as though it’s intentional, that the narrator is hiding his true feelings and just inadvertently let his pain out for a moment. Rather, it feels like a tacked-on “downer” moment in an otherwise bubbly, happy-sounding song. Plus, if Dorsey’s narrator isn’t that well-drawn a character, if he’s just ranting about some woman who’s had the gall to move on (and who can blame her?), then the whole thing becomes a bit less savoury, and a lot less appealing.
A fun and lively tune, and worth a couple of listens, but there’s too much fundamentally wrong with it to really love it the way I thought I would when it first started up.
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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