Thursday, May 22, 2014
The Immortal Bob Lloyd
Somewhere out there is, or was, a man named Bob Lloyd. His prominence in the song-poem world rests on just one side of one record, the thoroughly amazing "Our Hearts Were Meant to Beat as One". This song was on the first two song-poem compilations, and if you haven't heard it, I encourage you to seek it out. It is as incompetent a performance - by the pianist, but much more outlandishly, by the singer - as there is on a song-poem record.
The song-poem database only reports two Bob Lloyd records out there, both on the tiny Dial label (not, I assure you, the famed Soul label which featured Joe Tex, among others). There certainly may have been others discovered since AS/PMA was mothballed. I have now found a third, on the even tinier Rocket label (not, I assure you, Elton John's late '70's label).
And while the vocal on "If It's All the Same to You" is not as ridiculous as on "Our Hearts", it also confirms, in my mind, that Bob Lloyd was not meant to be a balladeer. Simply put, this is a truly bad vocal performance. Lloyd's sense of pitch is not developed, and his tone doesn't lend itself to this style of song.
On a separate note, I'd like to point out the unusual name of the song-poet - Smith A. Hopkins - and express my curiosity as to whether he was related to my favorite song-poet ever, Edith Hopkins, who wrote one of those songs sung by Bob Lloyd on the Dial label.
The flip side, "Slow Train Boogie", is a masterwork in comparison with its flip side. Lloyd still can't really stay in tune, but this material doesn't particularly require him to. The backing band doesn't quite have the energy that the song requires, but the pianist is trying, and the rockabilly guitar solo approaches the passable level, which is a small miracle.
Who are you - or were you - Bob Lloyd? A grateful batch of song-poem enthusiasts thank you, wherever you are!