"Don't Make No Noise" (D. Labostrie)
Chris Kenner, Prigan, 1961
If you can bear some surface noise, here’s a rare promo single by one of New Orleans’ favorite sons, Chris Kenner. The version I have was released on the Prigan label (owned by Lloyd Price and Harold Logan – hence Pri – gan) in 1961 to capitalize on Kenner’s newfound fame from his hit recording that year of “I Like It Like That” on Valiant/Instant. “Don’t Make No Noise” had been originally recorded in 1959 and issued on the local Pontchartrain label. This re-issue must have been a rush job, as, strangely, it’s flip side, “The Right Kind Of Girl” is not the same B-side as on the Pontchartrain 45; in fact, it’s not even by Chris Kenner! Though uncredited on the record, I’ve learned that Billy LaMont is the vocalist on the other side.* Go figure.
Be all that as it may (the record business in those days was fast and loose), I dig this rockin’ little number. Both John Broven and Jeff Hannusch mention the tune in passing, one calling it “boisterous”, the other “rambunctious”. I think the frenzied drumming here is what grabs you, breaking from stop time into a full-tilt gallop of New Orleans style syncopation that makes a lot of noise and offers edgy support to the rebellious teenage spirit of Dorothy Labostrie’s lyrics. The song mentions the kids doing many dances; but what do you do to a song like this, other than rip up the joint? With its rollicking tenor sax and tight ensemble playing, “Don’t Make No Noise” could have been a contender voiced by the likes of, say, Larry Williams or Little Richard (for whom Labostrie wrote the lyrics to “Tutti Frutti”, and who already had religion by 1959). But Kenner turned out to be a far better songwriter than vocalist. So, living up to the title, neither issue of this record made any noise.
Still, he didn’t do too badly as a recording artist, considering. His earlier (1957) self-penned record for Imperial, produced by Dave Bartholomew, “Sick and Tired”, had good local sales, which were eclipsed by Fats Domino’s cover a year later. “I Like It Like That” was a huge national hit; and his “Something You Got” and “Land Of 1,000 Dances” were also well received. The latter song was covered, of course, by both Cannibal and the Headhunters and Wilson Pickett very successfully. So successfully that Kenner’s version has been all but forgotten. He continued writing and recording into the early 1970’s, making a few good sides; but his profligate lifestyle got the better of his career and his talent.
*Thanks to Bob McGrath of the R&B Indies for that piece of information and all his fine discographical work (more on that to come).