b/w The Miles
(Written by Howard Hausey)
1964 was almost done, and with it the story of Texas’ Mel-o-dy Records, Motown’s ill-fated and little-remembered first foray into the alien world of Country & Western music. The label’s mainstay during the thirty shaky months of its existence was this man, Howard Hausey, who not only cut more singles for Mel-o-dy as an artist than anyone else on the roster, but also wrote a sizeable handful of its other 45s.
Hausey was a better writer than a performer, with an ear for a melody and the ability to turn in an interesting lyric, even if his innate preference for cheesy ideas often got the better of him. As a performer – where he adopted the surname “Crockett”, believing it to sound more ‘country’ – I’ve taken to describing him as a supermarket brand Johnny Cash, a role in which Hausey revelled, for good and ill. For every passable imitation of Cash’s grizzled, menacing growl, there’s a lapse into jaunty, hokey homily territory to match any Cash record that good taste forgot. The big differences are that firstly, Hausey hasn’t earned our respect and patience for such slip-ups. And secondly, Johnny Cash never cut records as bad as these.
This is a meandering, mawkish plod through an undistinguished tune, a swampy soup of country tropes arranged to no particular recipe. Clunky and ham-fisted, it gets on your nerves almost from the off; the lyrics and general feel of the thing are cloying and sentimental enough to raise your hackles, and yet it somehow still manages to wind up being boring. Very boring.
Actually, that’s not completely fair, there are a couple of points of interest along the way. Crockett’s voice is nice enough, deep and resonant, but I’m too annoyed by the song to appreciate it properly. Then, just shy of a minute in, there’s a phenomenally poorly-judged spoken word section, our Howard’s Shatneresque diction provoking unintentional giggles literally every single time. But otherwise, there’s nothing going on here but boredom.
This is easily as poor as previous Crockett atrocities like That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine or Bringing In The Gold. Ironically – possibly selflessly, I don’t know – Howard seems to have been writing stronger material for his labelmates than he gave himself. Perhaps he just wouldn’t dare try to palm this tedious rubbish off on someone else.
Hardly one to remember, let’s leave it at that.
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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