Louis Jordan

Five Guys Named Moe

Song Review by

Big band leader and R&B forebear Louis Jordan had a sizable platter with the upbeat and thoroughly jumpin' "Five Guys Named Moe" (b/w "It's a Lowdown Dirty Shame"). The percolating cadence coupled with Jordan's agile interpretation was a smash, capping the Harlem Hit Parade, as well as making it all the way to a considerable number three on Billboard Magazine's pop survey. It's certainly not hard to understand the appeal, as the boogie defies the listener to keep still. Joining Jordan (tenor sax) in his Tympany 5 are Eddie Roane (trumpet), Arnold Thomas (piano), Dallas Bartley (bass), and Walter Martin (drums). The side commences with a jazzy introduction from Thomas, landing into a simmering vibe. They collectively wail, especially during the instrumental break between the second repeat of the sole verse. Roane's hot solo is passed over to Jordan, who duly obliges with a few fiery licks of his own. In the lyrics, the Moe quintet is a widely touted musical combo consisting of Big Moe, Little Moe, Four-Eyed Moe, No Moe, and brother Eat Moe. The combo is lauded as "the greatest band around," which "makes the cats jump up and down" and is the "talk of Rhythm Town." The quintet's capacity as a top-flight aggregate is universally appreciated, as evidenced in the lines "High brow, low brow, all agree/They're the best in harmony/I'm telling you folks you just got to see/Five guys named Moe." Jordan and company even provide a taste of the fivesome's vocal capabilities as they limberly repeat the word "Moe" in several quick exchanges incorporating some tricky chord progressions. "Five Guys Named Moe" inspired a Broadway production of the same name in the early '90s, with the show's soundtrack being heavily adapted from Jordan's songbook. Other cover versions include readings from Joe Jackson, Jellyroll, Chazz Cats, and the Chevalier Brothers.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Jivin' with Jordan [Charly] 197? Charly Records
Five Guys Named Moe [Charly #2] 1992 Geffen 2:55
Louis Jordan and the Tympany Five [BMG Video] 1992 BMG Special Products
Five Guys Named Moe (The V Discs) 1993 Charly Records 3:11
Jazz Anthology: 1942 1994
Various Artists
EPM 3:01
1941-1943 1994 Classics 3:08
The R&B Box: 30 Years of Rhythm & Blues 1994
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Bros.
Louis Jordan and His Tympany Five: 1939-1944 1995 EMPrecords 3:03
Topaz Jazz: The Box 1995
Various Artists
Pearl 3:04
The Best of AFRS Jubilee, Vol. 7: No. 169 & 81 1996
Various Artists
RST Records 3:24
Louis Jordan on Film 1942-1945 1996 Krazy Kat Records 2:38
1942-45: The R&B Hits 1997
Various Artists
Indigo 3:09
The Platinum Collection 1997 Start 2:59
Topaz Jazz: Great Vocalists 1998
Various Artists
Pearl 3:04
Five Guys Named Moe [Prism] 1998 Prism Platinum 3:11
No Image 1999 Music Club Records
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Louis Jordan 1999 MCA 2:56
Man Alive It's the Jumping Jive 1999 Avid 3:01
Legends of Music: Jazz - Voices 1999
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Legends of Music Collection 2:56
Is You Is or Is You Ain't 1999 Jazzterdays (Netherlands) 3:00
Introduction: His Best Recordings: 1939-1947 2000 Best of Jazz 2:57
Over There 1942 2000
Various Artists
Phontastic 3:01
Essential Recordings 2001 Purple Pyramid 0:00
Jivin' with Jordan [Proper Box] 2002 Proper Box 3:01
The Very Best of Swingin' Jive Transcriptions 2002
Various Artists
P-Vine Records 2:48
Five Guys Named Moe [Proper] 2002 Proper Sales & Dist. 3:01
Big Band, Blues & Boogie: Roots Of Rock 'N' Roll, Vol. 1 2003
Various Artists
President 2:59
Jumpin' and Jivin' 2005 Recall (UK) 3:00
The Essential Blue Archive: Jack, You're Dead 2007 SPV
Five Guys Named Moe [Charly] Charly Records
Harlem Roots, Vol. 2: The Headliners
Various Artists
Storyville 2:44