Edna McGriff

Start Movin' in My Direction

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Edna McGriff had a little success as an R&B singer in the early 1950s; her "Heavenly Father" made the R&B Top Five in 1952. By the time rock & roll had taken over the pop charts in the mid-'50s, however, she was assigned to the odd task of recording budget covers of then-current hits for the Bell label. More than half of the 29 tracks on this collection of 1954-1959 recordings are taken from her Bell releases, which were largely devoted to interpretations of rock and pop hits of the period like "Mr. Lee," "Pledging My Love," "Dance with Me, Henry," "The Fool," "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," and "Don't You Just Know It." Even before her stint at Bell, she got in on the covers act with a 1954 version of "Sh-Boom" for the Bell-affiliated Favorite label. Although McGriff was African-American, these are fairly stiff readings whose arrangements uncomfortably recall the numerous bowdlerized interpretations of R&B and early black rock hits by white artists who attempted to recast them for a white audience. She actually sounds a little more comfortable when working outside of rock and R&B, as on her 1957 performances of the folk standard "Freight Train" and Della Reese's pop hit "And That Reminds Me." She did have the opportunity to record pop/rock-R&B blends for other companies in the late '50s that weren't directed toward the budget cover market, but the material wasn't distinguished, and McGriff's rather mannered pop delivery simply didn't sound at ease with the earthier approach such tunes seemed to require. It's telling that she seems better suited to the three Rodgers & Hammerstein compositions she did for a 1959 Bell LP of numbers from the Flower Drum Song musical.

Start Movin' in My Direction's packaging boasts fine liner notes, a thorough discography, and abundant photos/clippings/record sleeve graphics from the era. But it's nonetheless a peculiar release that will have little appeal to rock or R&B fans considering other versions of many of the songs are so superior, and that it generally reflects how poorly some labels and artists attempted to adapt to the changing times by trying to make rock music over into mainstream pop.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:35
2 2:42
3 2:46
5 2:23
6 2:18
7 2:43
8 2:35
9 2:39
10 3:03
11 2:36
12 2:46
13 2:24
14 2:45
15 2:31
16 1:47
feat: Buddy & Edna
feat: Buddy & Edna
19 2:33
20 2:01
21 2:39
22 2:29
24 2:07
25 2:51
26 2:37
27 2:23
28 2:40
29 4:31
blue highlight denotes track pick