Let Lionel Put A Slide In Your Glide
"Baby Let Me Do My Thing" (Walter Moorehead)
Lionel Robinson, Knight 7-779, 1972
I always enjoy finding a good record I’ve never heard before by an artist I know almost nothing about; and so it is with “Baby Let Me Do My Thing”, from one of four known Lionel Robinson singles* released on Knight Records, which are, perhaps, his only recordings (there is a listing for that name on Gotham in the 1950’s; but it’s probably not the same guy). The only other one I've heard is Robinson’s 1971 organ instrumental, “Steppin’ Out”, a good record with a bit o’ da funk to it. But I come up short of background on him. With my usual print and internet sources revealing little (so far), I decided just to go ahead and post this recent acquisition with what I do know and see if anybody else has anything to add. Maybe the Soul Detective krewe can take him on some time.
A 1972 production by label owner Traci Borges, this is a pretty well-recorded, nicely played and arranged dancer with a distinct 1960’s Stax feel. The guitarist even cops one of Steve Cropper’s “Soul Man” riffs. As Mr. Robinson’s name was attached to that earlier organ instrumental, I am going to take a wild leap and put him at the keyboard on this track, too. No New Orleans funk here; but, it’s still a decent, if derivative cut, written by Walter Moorehead, who was an associate of Isaac Bolden and did some production work with him for Jean Knight on Soulin’ in the 1980’s. If it had been given the Wardell Quezergue treatment at Malaco, I could hear King Floyd doing "Baby Let Me Do My Thing". The lyrics aren’t much; but Robinson’s quality delivery is spirited and makes them worth hearing. He also does a good job on the b-side, “Warning”, which is a lesser soul-pop number written by Borges. By the way, it looks like this b-side also appeared on another of Robinson’s Knight singles, which had “One Woman Man” on top. The only other name on the label for this side is Mike Scorsone, credited with A&R, who appears to have been a sax player from the New Orleans area. So, I’d guess he’s in the horn section and/or maybe had something to do with their arrangements. Other than Scorsone and Robinson, I don’t have any good guesses on the rest of the players.
As you true HOTG hounds know, Borges’ Kinght Recording Studios in Metairie, LA (just next door to the Big Easy) was used by Eddie Bo for several projects. He recorded his funk hit “Hook and Sling” for Scram there in 1969, two later rare singles released on Knight (with the Soul Finders), “Sweeter Than Mine” b/w “Afro Bush” (does anybody know about this one? – does it really exist?) and the two-parter, “The Rubber Band”, and probably several other projects on himself and others. I have previously covered singles by Jean Knight and Rose Davis that were recorded and produced at Knight. In the early 1980’s, the popular New Orleans New Wave band, The Cold, recorded single sides at Knight, as well. And I think Borges may still be operating the studio.
In 1970’s New Orleans, if a record or artist wasn’t affiliated with Toussaint and Sehorn’s Sansu Productions, working out of Sea-Saint Studios**, there wasn’t much hope of getting any notice. Very few of Borges’ productions had anything other than limited local distribution and airplay. The big Clematis Avenue boys had the market locked up tight. I’d like to hear those other sides by Lionel Robinson, who got good and lost in the 1970’s shuffle. Glad I found him. Now, let’s do our thing and keep on diggin’.
** [I caught myself on this one. Please note that Sea-Saint Studio, located on Clematis Avenue in New Orleans and owned by the Sansu partners, did not open until 1973.]
*Via The R&B Indies and other sources, here are Lionel Robinson's known singles:
Knight 3051 - "Steppin' Out" b/w ?
Knight 304 - "Candy" b/w "Something Is Wrong With My Baby"
Knight 7-777-A - "One Woman Man" b/w Knight 7-778-B - "Warning"
Knight 7-779-A - "Baby Let Me Do My Thing" b/w Knight 7-778-B - "Warning"