This Week's Words To Live By
"A Little Bit Of Something [Is Better Than A Whole Lot Of Nothing]"
(Robert Parker) Robert Parker, Island, 1976
Nevertheless. . .
So, the song title sums up the blog output for this week. Hope you can hang with it. The tune itself is an interesting artifact: enjoyable enough, but without rendering you sockless, I guess. It’s a Sansu production with Wardell Quezergue credited as the arranger. Released as a single on Island in 1976, the track may have been recorded around 1974, according to Jeff Hannusch in The Soul of New Orleans. The other side is an equally funk-infected tune, penned by Leo Nocentelli, called “Better Luck In The Summer”. If the vinyl eludes you, both songs can be found compiled on the Collectables CD, Barefootin’.
That flip-side songwriting credit leads me to guess that we may have Leo’s wah-wah guitar scratching on this tune; but I don’t feel Zig in the drums. I could be wrong about it; but the sticks seem just a bit too predictable, for lack of a better word. I like this groove, though – just don’t know who’s doing it. That said, I might vote for George Porter, Jr. as the bassist of record. But, it’s guesswork. I couldn’t find any mention of session players for this one. My friend, Dwight, who has drummed for Chocolate Milk since the fairly early 1970’s and did a lot of session work at SeaSaint Studios (Sansu’s home base) back then, has told us before that various combinations of players were used for sessions there, with neither Toussaint nor his partner Marshall Sehorn paying much attention to crediting who played on what. Leo Nocentelli backs up that view in an interview I read recently.
Robert Parker is a limited, but effective singer, getting the job done on his own tune. His music career as a sax player and vocalist is a cool compendium of HOTG associations: playing with Professor Longhair in the early days, fronting a band that backed numerous touring singers (Roy Brown, Solomon Burke, Joe Turner) in the 1950’s, session work with Eddie Bo in the early 1960’s, including a hip fist solo single, and, of course, his big, top ten hit for Quezergue’s NOLA Records, “Barefootin’” in 1966. But, “A Little Bit Of Something” didn’t do anything to reheat his popularity in the next decade; and a whole lot of nothing seems to have been issued on him since.
I was in high school when “Barefootin’” came out; and I wore the grooves through to the other side. That year, I saw Robert Parker perform it at the MidSouth Coliseum in Memphis on one of those r&b all-star tour package shows, where the hit artists of the day came out and did their greatest and/or latest. I remember, when the band struck up the signature guitar and horn intro, Parker cruising out onto the stage in a bright yellow suit (or was it red? – anyway, it was bright!) – barefoot, of course – and tore it up. And, although I was big on New Orleans back then as an exotic place I visited, I didn’t realize he was from there for many years. Funny that he is almost the only act I remember from that show.