Debut author Bledsoe, an original member of the 1960s rock ’n’ roll group The Swingin’ Medallions, gives his account of the band’s history in this straightforward memoir.
The Swingin’ Medallions lived an American dream, going from packing clubs in Alabama and South Carolina to hitting the Billboard charts with the top-20 hit “Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love)” in 1966. Their success allowed them to tour the country and appear on shows hosted by Dick Clark (Where the Action Is) and Casey Kasem, pre-American Top 40. They also made famous friends, such as singer Rufus Thomas, humorist Lewis Grizzard, and musician Curtis Mayfield. Bledsoe spends most of his time on the band’s early history, but he does include a bit about The Swingin’ Medallions’ current incarnation in a later chapter. Fans will surely enjoy having all the dates and details of the group’s past in one handy volume, and Bledsoe includes plenty of newspaper clippings to peruse. James Brown fans will enjoy a bit involving the Godfather of Soul and Smash Records, the Medallions’ label. However, the voices of other members of the group and other witnesses to its history are missing, so the book’s job feels half done. The skeleton of the story is here, but there are no quotes from other players, and the anecdotes never get too deep. For example, the author notes that the band supported him after his wife took her own life, but he doesn’t mention who specifically helped him get through such a terrible time, or how. He also brings up the fascinating detail that he, as a teacher, and the other band members, as students, couldn’t work on the band full time for fear of being drafted. However, he doesn’t talk about the effects that this situation had on their work, or how he or the others felt about it. Instead, readers get details about the band’s favorite rides at Disneyland.
A bit too light and breezy for casual rock fans, but the group’s adherents will find it a nice, tidy history.