Jean Knight and the Nashville Cats
"Jessie Joe (You Got To Go)" [Paul Kelly]
Jean Knight, Dial, 1974
Had to go
Probably recorded in Nashville, “Jessie Joe (You Got To Go)” was a one-off single that New Orleans chanteuse Jean Knight did for Buddy Killen’s Dial label in 1974. While not the only Music City label to focus on r&b, soul and funk music (the Excello group certainly did its part), Dial bucked the relentless country trends there for over a decade starting in the mid-1960’s, with its biggest act being Joe Tex. Besides Knight, Dial released sides by several other Crescent City based artists over the years: Bobby Marchan, Clarence “Frogman” Henry, and King Floyd.
This tune struts its big, funky arrangement with attitude and ease. With no session details, I’ll just fantasize that the rhythm section on this record could well have been the likes of Reggie Young on guitar, Tommy Cogbill on bass, and drum master Larrie Londin, all Nashville country stalwarts who had backgrounds as accomplished r&b players. If you know who actually made the date, please let me know
I think this is one of Jean Knights’ best performances on record; and she’s had some good ones. When signed to Stax in the early 1970’s, she recorded her hits, “Mr. Big Stuff” and “You Think You’re Hot Stuff”, at Malaco in Jackson, MS, along with more than an album’s worth of other fine, funk-infused sides. Home of the Groove master Wardell Quezergue worked his magic on those as producer and arranger. Knight didn’t get much airplay or notice again until her 1980's pile-on version of “My Toot Toot” moved some units. She is still an active performer.
You can find “Jessie Joe” on at least two comps: Kent Soul’s outstanding double disk set, The Dial Records Southern Soul Story; and Charly’s Blax-Plosion, a very good, out of print, two CD funk collection. The Kent also includes the flip side, “Dirt”, another fine tune written by Paul Kelly and soulfully rendered by Ms Knight.