Give Me Love
Rosie & the Originals Give Me Love 45 (Highland, 1961)
One of the greatest R&B 45s is a record that almost didn't get made. In 1961, National City, California's Rosie & the Originals crammed into a station wagon and headed to San Marcos. Singer Rosie Hamlin writes, "In those days San Marcos was out in the middle of no-where. Los Angeles was too far for us. I remember seeing cows and farms as far as the eye could see. We finally arrived at this place that looked to us like an old barn. It was actually an old airplane hanger. The owner had airplane parts all over the place. He was retired and had always wanted to record so he had a corner set up with recording equipment."
Sixteen year-old Rosie and her teenage band set up their amps and waited for the sax player, Alfred Barrett, to arrive. After an hour or so, the band got worried and called Albert at home. He said he couldn't make it, his mom was making him mow the lawn! Alfred did, however, instruct the bassist, Tony Gomez, how to play the Angel Baby sax solo - a five minute lesson done over the phone.
The band did 30 takes of Angel Baby and was about to wrap it up when the engineer asked if they had another song. "Another song?" the band replied. They only had one song to record. The engineer told them that if they wanted to make a record they needed a B-side. So the band started to jam out an R&B groove and told their pal, Blueford Wade, who was along for the ride, to improv some vocals. The result was Give Me Love.
It is a rare person who has not heard Angel Baby on oldies radio. The song gets regular airplay and, as far as oldies tunes go, it is great. There is nothing slick about the song. It slowly crawls along as a R&B ballad, Rosie in high nasal crooning the poem she wrote when she was 14. The band hits the bridge and Gomez barely gets through his sax solo - one that Bowie must have practiced to - while the drummer misses a few beats. The bass and piano keep it together with deliberation.
Give Me Love is even rawer than the hit A-side. Since the song was an afterthought, knocked off in 5 minutes, that is not a surprise. However, it is the rawness and the lack of preparation that makes the song fantastic. A straight up Jimmy Reed style pump & dump, Give Me Love cruises through missed beats, a flubbed guitar break, and a barely competent sax solo. While the band stays in time, the song has no set structure. Where verse ends and chorus begins all depends on which band member takes the lead and when the others decide to follow. Somehow, Blueford Wade negotiates this. He follows the twists and turns of the song to the end, then he plaintively asks to be held tight, "'til everything's all right." A guitar flourish and the song is done.
In a 1968 interview, John Lennon raved about Give Me Love, saying the song "is what it's all about." And he is right. Spontaneous emotion on top of a beat, with little care about anything other than playing a song, Give Me Love is one of the best B-sides ever recorded.
You can find Angel Baby b/w Give me Love for a dollar or less in almost any 45 bin. Find it for a buck and you not only have a steal, but a great example of why it pays to flip a 45 over.