Monday, 28 July 2008

Clarence “Bad Boy” Palmer and the Jive Bombers—Bad Boy

My record shelves are peppered with them: if you’re a charity-shopping, jumble-sale-haunting vinyl fan like me, yours will probably also have a few. I’m talking about those records with fabulous covers you’re willing to gamble a few pennies on. You don’t know the artist: you don’t know the label: you can’t tell the genre. But the cover demands to be yours.

Of course they usually turn out to be musical mince when you get around to playing them, but every once in a while, every now and then, you’ve found a gem.

Here is such a gem, courtesy of my pal Cat (Hey Catherine!) who found this album Surprise Party Rive Gauche in a Barnardo’s Charity Shop, so many years ago she’s forgotten exactly when. There are a few pleasant numbers on this seemingly arbitrary French compilation, but the big standout track has to be “Bad Boy”: a fairly standard jazzy doo-wop arrangement, it’s the lead vocalists extraordinary ability to sound like a muted trumpet which makes it fab.

That LP itself is difficult to place; not least because of the bizarre arrangement of information: tracks titles are listed in one place (with a dance category: cha-cha-cha, charleston fox, etc.), while artists are listed elsewhere. I initially assumed that this was a cheap knock-off for tourists: local cabaret artists covering big international hits. But when I consulted the TCP/IP soothsayer, I found that The Jive Bombers were a New York band, and “Bad Boy” was a big US hit for them in 1957.

And the Song? Written by Lil Armstrong (neé Hardin), Louis’ second wife, it was originally titled “Brown Gal” in her version. The Jive Bombers recorded it first as “Brown Boy” in 1952, then the hit version here, now racially defused as “Bad Boy”, in 1957.

Download Clarence “Bad Boy” Palmer and the Jive Bombers—Bad Boy from Rapidshare

Here’s Lil’s original “Brown Gal” on YouTube, complete with lyric captions:

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