Having spent years showcasing his own personality while diminishing the importance of the instrumentalists in his bands, Cab Calloway groveled during the early '50s, resorting to every imaginable gimmick and often sounding positively desperate. Two rather forced duets with Eugenie Baird employ exactly the same material as Pearl Bailey and Hot Lips Page were using during that same time period. These somewhat irritating covers are as different as can be from the fine artistry of Pearl and Page. "Rooming House Boogie" actually rocks, and Sam Taylor has a good hot solo. An overbearing tribute to Joe Louis is followed by the misogynistic "Your Voice." Notoriously intolerant of new musical ideas when young Dizzy Gillespie worked in his orchestra, by 1949 Cab had the unmitigated gall to sing a stupid novelty called "I Beeped When I Shoulda Bopped." This in itself was a gross imitation of Dizzy Gillespie's hit record "He Beeped When He Shoulda Bopped." Musical genres alternate as if Cab's career has been stuffed into a Waring blender. "Pero Que Jelengue," "La Mucura," and to some extent "Que Pasa Chica" are interesting examples of Calloway getting in touch with his Latino background. Cab should have done this more often! "The Duck Trot" has a bit of conga drumming and the tough tenor sax of Ike Quebec. On "Shotgun Boogie," Cab attempts to emulate Tennessee Ernie Ford. "One for My Baby" depicts a pathetic, lonely man trying to bond with his bartender. In 1952 Calloway began recording as a star vocalist backed by various orchestras rather than his own. Some of these tunes sound as if they were written expressly for Webb Pierce or Lefty Frizzell. There's a significant influx of material from the country & western market. "Hey Joe" was sent up by Homer & Jethro under the title "Hay Schmo." Why Cab Calloway tried to sing these songs, or indeed more than half of the material gathered together on this disc, is a mystery that can only be explained by economic straits and the often horrifying pop culture landscape of the 1950s. While Ray Charles was able to triumph with this kind of music, Calloway merely sounded like he was cornered by circumstances.
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AllMusic Review by arwulf arwulf