A hip duet
"Hold On Help Is On the Way" (Davis-Tyler-Parker)
G. Davis & R. Tyler, Parlo, 1966-67
Can't help it.
This great tune has been on my mind for weeks. It’s not that obscure, having been popular with the Northern Soul crowd for years, and is available on at least one of those CD comps from the UK and also on several US CD collections of Aaron Neville’s mid-1960’s Parlo sides. He had nothing to do with the song; but since he was Parlo’s only artist, other than its owners, the compilers saw fit to throw it on, I guess. So, you might have this or have heard it, already. But maybe you didn’t know much about it. If this is your first taste, enjoy.
Parlo Records was started by George Davis and Alvin “Red” Tyler along with Warren Parker around 1966. Both Davis and Tyler were New Orleans musicians of some note (see links above) on guitar and sax respectively. They signed gifted vocalist Aaron Neville to the new label and had him record “Tell It Like It Is”, written by producer Davis and Lee Diamond (see my Upsetters post for more on him), which was released as their first single (Parlo 101) in late 1966. The song was a big hit; but, as in many record business stories, neither the Parlo owners, nor Aaron Neville, saw any significant money from it. This bad dealing caused the label to fold soon thereafter, leaving the few remaining sides (hear one by Aaron), including our feature tune, to sink into nearly utter oblivion, of interest only to collectors and/or British soul dance fanatics, until the rise of CD reissues and mp3 files.
“Hold On Help Is On The Way” (Parlo 102 - I have no idea what inspired the title), features George Davis and “Red” Tyler duetting on the body of the instrumental, but with Davis doing the exciting solo work. He had a hip, jazzy, appealing guitar sound which got him session work from the mid-1950’s (“Mardi Gras Mambo” by the Hawketts), through 1960’s studio productions of Allen Toussaint and Wardell Quezergue. Probably his best known playing was on Robert Parker’s “Barefootin’”, also from 1966. While I am a big fan of Mr. Tyler, too, who had a long and impressive career in New Orleans music, we’ll save his praise for now and do a feature on him another day. I'm behind in my blogging.