Saturday, 8 January 2011

Frank Ifield - Lovesick Blues (1962/ No. 1/ 17 weeks/ Columbia)

He's barely even a footnote in pop history now, but Australian yodeling sensation Frank Ifield was the biggest pop star in Britain for about a year before the ascent of The Beatles turned him into yesterday's man, a descent that seemed to happen overnight. Bad Beatles! He was ace!

Lovesick Blues is probably the most extreme example of his singing technique. An old Hank Williams tune, Ifield turbo-charges it, speeding it up until it becomes the jauntiest blues imaginable.

It starts with an blast of brass (DANG! DA DANG! DA DANG! DANG!) which is so frenetic that it jolts the listener into noticing that this record is playing. Then Ifield himself appears, alternating between singing most of the words as fast as is humanly possible and extracting the maximum yodeling potential from them;

I godda feelin' called the BLUE-UUE!
Oh lawd, sinzemybabysedgoodbye...
And I don'know what I'll DOUOOEHUOOEH!
Allidoissitand CRI-EEE!
OW-WOH lawd, thatlas'longdayshesaidgoodbye...
Lawdy, wellithoughtigownna CRI-EEE-I-EEE-I!
She's got dat kinda lovin' -
Lawd, Iluvdahearah when she calls me sweet BAIY-AIY-EEE-BEE! -
Such a bewdiful dream!

This unhappy state of affairs has left Ifield so "Lowowownsome I got the lovesick blues"

But that's not all. A bridge then follows, a comparatively reflective section of the song - you can tell that it's reflective because it's underscored with a xylophone. Ifield interprets this bit in what Vic Reeves would call "the club style";

Wheni'minlove I'minlove with a preddy diddle gal!
That's what's the matter with me...
Wheni'minlove I'minlove with a preddy diddle gal!
But she don't care about me!

This comparatively restrained moment is concluded by Ifield telling us that "now she is a leeaeeavin' this is all I can say" returning us to (DANG! DA DANG! DA DANG! DANG!) a slight variation on the first verse and chorus; a description of the symptoms that form - and a subsequent self-diagnosis of - the lovesick blues that afflicts him.

At only two minutes long, its not a recording that outstays its welcome.

As a man who knows lovesickness perhaps more intimately than any other emotion, I suppose that you could make a valid criticism that it generally doesn't feel much like this single sounds. A brief, feverish, manic episode of lovesickness, perhaps... The reaction that hearing Lovesick Blues really inspires in this listener is a desire to jump up and down and try to sing along, like a toddler who has eaten to many Jelly Tots and is starting to make a nuisance of himself. Praise indeed!

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