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Rate-O-Rama: Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby

Rate-O-Rama #30: Louis Jordan, Dinah Washington & Quincy Jones, Joe Jackson

By Rick Henry Christopher Published 2 months ago โ€ข Updated 2 months ago โ€ข 4 min read
Louis Jordan / Dinah Washington & Quincy Jones / Joe Jackson

Welcome to Rate-O-Rama!

If you wish to receive a notice when the next Rate-O-Rama post is published please mention that you would like a notification in the comments section

Rate-O-Rama is a reader participation game.

Every Wednesday evening I will publish a Rate-O-Rama article which will feature three versions of a popular song.

The object is to listen to each of the music videos provided within the post.

After listening to each video you can rate each song in the comments section below.

(You must be a member to comment. If you are not a member you can join Vocal Media for FREE. You donโ€™t ever have to pay for membership unless you choose to upgrade your membership)


The rating method is easy. Simply give each song a rating of 1 to 100.

(The more you like the song the higher the rating).

If possible, please provide a brief comment to let us now what you think of each song.

After a week (Wednesday evening) I will tally the ratings and in the next Rate-O-Rama post, I will announce the average rating each song received.


Last week we featured the Rhythm & Blues classic: โ€œI Put a Spell on You" as recorded by Screamin' Jay Hawkins (1956), Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968), and Annie Lennox (2014).

The following are the average ratings for each song as a result of the votes:

๐Ÿฅ‡ Creedence Clearwater Revival: 84.8

๐Ÿฅˆ Screamin' Jay Hawkins: 77.3

๐Ÿฅ‰ Annie Lennox: 76.9


The Thirtieth Edition of Rate-O-Rama features three renditions of the Jump Blues / Jazz classic: โ€œIs You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby."


Louis Jordan (1944)

R&B/Jazz musician Louis Jordan co-wrote โ€œIs You Is or Is You Ain't My Babyโ€ with Billy Austin in 1943. Austin was a pianist in Jordan's ensemble. The song was a huge hit for Jordan having made it to #2 for three weeks on the US pop charts.

The song has been recorded by more than 150 artists from various genres and time periods.


Dinah Washington & The Quincy Jones Orchestra (1957)

Long before he teamed up with 'The King of Pop,โ€™ Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones was producing some of the finest jazz musicians including Betty Carter, Dihann Carroll, Dizzy Gillespie, Sarah Vaughan, and Dinah Washington. At the young age of 23 Q began working with Dinah Washington who was one of the most popular jazz singers of the 1950s. She racked up a stream of steady hits from 1944 to 1964.

Although she did not release โ€œIs You Is or Is You Ain't My Babyโ€ as a single the track was popular in her repertoire. She rerecorded the song in 1962 for her album Dinah โ€˜62.


Joe Jackson (1981)

With his first three albums Joe Jackson made his mark with a post punk new wave sound similar to Elvis Costello. In 1981 Jackson made a complete 380 in musical style and recorded a swing and Jump Blues album which he called Joe Jackson's Jumpin' Jive. The album is a collection of covers of classic 1940s swing and jump blues songs originally performed by musicians such as Louis Jordan and Cab Calloway.

โ€œIs You Is or Is You Ain't My Babyโ€ was a highlight from the album and received a fair amount of radio airplay.


My Thoughts


Louis Jordan:

Smooth, cool, and mellow. Not once does Mr. Jordan have to push or force his voice. His voice comes out with ease and soul.

This song was well recorded and is an early example of progressive technology in music with The layered vocal effect. The layered vocal effect is seamlessly executed here. The Vocal tracks are perfectly blended to create a singular voice that pops out and with a multi-dimensional sound.

Beyond the superb vocals I love the horns throughout the song, they add a nice jazz sort of flow to the overall sound. Clarence Johnson's rolling piano sets the tempo for the song and Louis Jordan's saxophone is the โ€œbee's knees.โ€ Louis Jordan gets 100 from me.


Dinah Washington & The Quincy Jones Orchestra:

I want to briefly talk about Quincy Jones. Age 20 he played trumpet for Lionel Hampton, at age 21 he composed the musical arrangements for Ray Anthony's Standards album. By age 23 he was arranging, producing and conducting for thee Dinah Washington. At that young age Q had already accomplished more than most do in their entire life and he was just beginning. He went on to produce all of those 1960s hits for Lesley Gore which are all fun upbeat tunes. We all remember โ€œIt's My Party.โ€ In the 1970s he produced a slew of different musicians including several albums for the R&B funk band Brothers Johnson. But his biggest successes were to come in the 1980s when he produced the albums Off the Wall and the mega successful album Thriller for Michael Jackson.

This rendition โ€œIs You Is or Is You Ain't My Babyโ€ is red hot and Quincy Jones's orchestra and orchestration are flawless. Every instrument is strategically placed to enhance the soul and the rhythm of this jazz classic. But the indisputable star of this song is Dinah Washington. She is a vocal stylist of the highest degree. She sings with style and grace and puts a lot of personality into her performance. I give this rendition a 100.


Joe Jackson:

After listening to Louis Jordan's and Dinah Washington's smooth and effortless vocal performances Joe Jackson comes off as somewhat rough, not unprofessional and certainly not off key, but rough. Joe Jackson is a seasoned vocalist and he sings well. I like that he puts more of a blues inflection into his performance as opposed to the smooth jazz performances from the former. Joe Jackson's band as always is top-notch and they perform the song to perfection. I give this rendition a 95.


I will be back next week with the results of this Rate-O-Rama Edition.


Last Week's Rate-O-Rama:


With Love, RHC โค๏ธ

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About the Creator

Rick Henry Christopher

Writing is a distraction to fulfill my need for intellectual stimulus, emotional release, and soothing the bruises of the day.

The shattered pieces of life will not discourage me.

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Comments (16)

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  • Rick Henry Christopher (Author)2 months ago

    This edition of Rate-O-Rama is now closed. Please see the new Rate-O-Rama at:

  • Raymond G. Taylor2 months ago

    Dinah 100 = crystal clear, cut-glass vocalisation and can't be faulted. Quincy Jones? Why did I not bask in his aura one time at least? What's not to love?Louis Jordan, 1944. Hard to imaging this kinda sound coming out of the year before WW2 came to an end. Had I been there I would have been soul struck. Seems mean to give it a 99. Joe Jackson? Superb musician but not on this track. Sorry Joey but it has to be a 70. Pretty good 70 but I think you know how far you were away from the gods on this one.

  • Rachel Robbins2 months ago

    For me, Dinah every time and the Jones arrangement is lush - 100 Louis Jordan - very much of its time and effortlessly cool - 95 I hadnโ€™t heard the Joe Jackson before but I liked the rough edges, itโ€™s much more plaintive and raw -95

  • Tiffany Gordon 2 months ago

    What a fun song! I thought you were talking about MJ's dad at first when I first saw the name Joe Jackson!! I enjoyed each rendition! I especially likes JJ's spunk!!!! LJ 99 Dinah 95 Joe Jackson 94

  • Lamar Wiggins2 months ago

    I first heard this song during a cartoon. Tom and Jerry or popeye maybe, can't remember. Jordan for me was clean and suave. I loved the rolling piano you mentioned. 89 D&Q's version was very pleasant to the ears. I listened to it twice. It was even better the second time. 90 Joe's version started out okay. It was the chorus that got me, which knocked his score way down. If felt like a cheap vaudeville number for a dancing chorus line, lol. 50

  • Shirley Belk2 months ago

    I think Dinah blew the boys away on this one. I love her sass. She made me believe= 100 Louis=75 Joe=NO 25

  • Grz Colm2 months ago

    Agree with the vocal of Joe Jackson. Not aware of this song initially, but I think I like these old school jazz bands and need listen to more of these. ๐Ÿ˜ Louis Jordan -87 Dinah and Quincey - 85 Joe Jackson- 74

  • The Dani Writer2 months ago

    Aww man, such a cool song! Don't think I've heard it since childhood so this was a treat. Dinah & Quincy - 100 Louis Jordan - 95 Joe Jackson - 94

  • Mariann Carroll2 months ago

    Nice version choices Joe Jackson 70 Louis Jordan 72 Dinah Washington 100

  • I adore classic jazz. :) ๐ŸŽน๐Ÿฅ๐ŸŽบ๐ŸŽผ Louis Jordan: 100! :D Dinah Washington & the QJO: 100! :D The Quincy Jones Orchestra is fantastic! Deliciously enchanting music. :) Joe Jackson: 90

  • Classic jazz! :D What a treat for this week! :) Thank you, Rick. :)

  • Christian Bass2 months ago

    Dinah Washington & The Quincy Jones Orchestra: 100 Louis Jordan: 60 Joe Jackson: 10 (not really liking it but it feels like a nice background version for a pub)

  • Marie Wilson2 months ago

    I love Dinah's voice, flawless - she and Q get 100 from me. Louis Jordan's original is fun & smooth and that's a 99. Joe doesn't do it for me here; I agree with you RHC, a bit rough, so 90.

  • Louis Jordan 97 Dinah Washington & Quincy Jones 100 Joe Jackson 90 They are all original and produced in each artist own particular style. I just love Dinah & Quincy. Seriously the two of them singing together produce a voluptuous light that shines brightly

  • Kendall Defoe 2 months ago

    This is a tough one. I like Mr. Jordan's version, but the Jones-Washington collab, and Jackson's tribute really work for me. So... Jordan: 80 Quincy/Dinah: 70 Jackson: 50

  • Jordan hearkens back to a time before I was born, wistful, hopeful & romantic. The only thing that set me a little on edge was at the very beginning when the saxophone was just a smidge beneath the piano in pitch--appropriate & thoroughly a part of jazz, but made me pause for a moment. 99 Dianah & Quincy are Dianah & Quincy & take me back to my childhood. 100 Jackson did a great job with this, though not quite as much my style as the other two. 95

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