Left Coast Swamp Side
Guess which one is Big John
"I Just Find Myself Falling" (W. Devillier - J. Vinidigini)
Sweet Salvation, from Sweet Salvation, Elektra, 1972
You liked it....you really liked it
As with most of my Swamp Side designated tracks, this one and the album it comes from have ties to Louisiana, and, in this case, New Orleans, too.
I found the Sweet Salvation album in a pile of dollar records at one of the shops in Memphis back in the 1990’s. I’d never seen one before, didn’t know it existed; so I took a look and was floored to see on it “Big John” Thomassie, a New Orleans drummer I had heard live with Luther Kent’s Trick Bag band and admired. Also listed as band members were several cats with French sounding names that indicated possible Louisiana origins. I thought it was a buck well-spent, even before I put it on the turntable. Listening to it didn’t disappoint either, as it turned out to have a funk flavor to its mostly r&b feel, with a little blues and gospel in the mix.
“I Just Find Myself Falling” lands on the funky side of the fence for sure, with an arrangement that immediately brings to mind Little Feat (a band that heavily channeled New Orleans in its heyday). Yet, this record came out about a year before Lowell George and crew brought their funk to the forefront on Dixie Chicken. Leon Russell as well as Delaney and Bonnie were artists who were expressing somewhat similar leanings around the same time. So, although they came and went virtually unnoticed, Sweet Salvation were running in good company when they recorded in Los Angeles in 1972.
DeEtta Little does the vocal on this one and gives it up soulfully. She’s also featured on an eight minute, full-tilt “Rock Steady” that closes the record, where she and the band do some real roof raisin’. Her claim to fame seems to be a duet she did on one of the Rocky soundtracks in the later 1970’s. Fritz Baskett is the other female vocalist of the group. On the sanctified piano is Wayne DeVillier (a/k/a Wayne Deville), who has got the chops, and, if I am not mistaken, came from the Morgan City, LA area, where he fronted Wayne and the Velvetones in the early 1960’s. Another possible Louisiana suspect is guitarist Don Normand. The group’s bassist is Alexander Smith, Jr.; and, of course, Big John’s the HOTG skins man, who most notably played on Tom Waits’s 1980 album, Heartattack and Vine. Thomassie, who passed away in the 1990’s, had the unmistakable feel of his hometown in his stick work; and I feel lucky to have seem him play live numerous times. Assisting him with the groove is top shelf percussionist Bobbye Hall. Together, they cook up a hot little track on an album that definitely has its moments; but it hardly saw the light of day before being remaindered to the cut-out bins and dollar boxes. Dat’s showbidniz.
<------- Los Angeles, 1,900 miles