June 29, 2006

Margie Joseph's Sweet Surrender

"Come Lay Some Lovin' On Me" (Paul Kelly)
Margie Joseph, from Sweet Surrender, Atlantic, 1974

I was on the road this past weekend and the first part of the week, giving not a thought to my next post. Then, listening to NPR somewhere in Mississippi on the way home, I heard that Arif Mardin had passed away. I had been meaning to get to another song by Margie Joseph; and, since she worked with the influential producer and arranger on three of her albums in the 1970’s (Margie Joseph, Sweet Surrender, and Margie), the time seemed right.

While Mardin successfully guided recordings by a number of white acts with soul leanings over the years, some of his most impressive associations (to me) were with high caliber women of soul, including Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, and Chaka Khan. For whatever reason, though, none of his mid-Seventies sessions with Margie Joseph lead to a breakthrough in her career that would elevate her towards their status. The producer had her covering all sorts material from the likes of Al Green and Stevie Wonder to Dolly Parton and Bread (!); and she made those tunes soulfully her own, with a few single sides getting into R&B charts. Still, she was eclipsed by others artists of the era and remains overlooked and under-rated by soul fans and collectors. Although the albums she and Mardin delivered were consistently high quality, it is generally acknowledged that Atlantic did not promote them or Joseph properly. Read
more about her career in David Nathan’s fine CD notes to the Ichiban CD compilation, Margie Joseph: The Atlantic Sessions/The Best Of Margie Joseph.

I’ve chosen Margie doing an otherwise unexceptional Paul Kelly composition, “Come Lay Some Lovin’ On Me” from 1974’s Sweet Surrender, because I think it’s both a good example of Mardin’s skills at production/arrangement and Joseph’s vocal chops. Though certainly a rung down from Aretha’s power and technique (but that’s still way up), this woman can sing, having a distinctive, recognizable style, in which you can often hear her gospel foundation. That’s evident on Kelly’s song. Riding on the groove and sweep of Mardin’s arrangement, with it’s syncopated interplay of parts, Margie rises above the lyrical limitations and let’s loose what she’s got.

As with her other LP’s with Arif Mardin, Sweet Surrender was cut in New York City, drawing from the deep pool of session talent available there. In general, I don’t find the material on this album quite up to Margie Joseph (1973), or Margie (1975), but, to each his/her own. I much prefer her funkier, more bare-bone material to the lushly orchestrated pieces; but I’m certainly glad to have all of them. As I’ve said before, in
one post or another, I think Ms Joseph is a singer well-worth further investigation and listening. She’s still recording and performing today, having gone back to her roots in the church. So, put this forgotten New Orleans soul diva on your want lists and see what else you can find.

Arif Mardin demonsrates the rare 'palms up' approach to fader
sliding. Hands up or down, he was one of the in-studio greats. RIP.

June 22, 2006

Stoked for Solid Gold

"Young Man, Old Man" (Allen Toussaint)
The Stokes, originally Alon 9029, 1966, from Solid Gold, Instant LP 71000, 1969

Way back before I started doing my radio show in Memphis or even remotely thought about it, the Instant LP that contains today’s feature cut was on my want list. I was just beginning to get seriously focused on collecting New Orleans music, rather than accumulating it haphazardly, as I’d been doing for years. Then my friend, Jim, who had way more New Orleans stuff than I did both on vinyl and mix tapes he collected and traded, let me tape the album (this was the olden days, kids). At first, I had wanted the record because “Pass The Hatchet” was on it; but, hearing it was my introduction to several songs by artists I hadn’t heard before: Willie Harper, Raymond Lewis, the Pitter Pats, and the Stokes. That started me seeking out as much as I could find on the labels that Joe Banashak had run in New Orleans: Valiant/Instant, Minit, Alon, Seven B, Bandy, etc. By the time I finally ran across a copy of Solid Gold to buy, I had everything on it in one format or another; but I was glad to get it anyway, since it had been an important touchstone along the way.

Actually, the somewhat misnamed Solid Gold was the first and only long player issued on Instant. Banashak meant it to be a retrospective of some of the successful sides, nationally and/or locally, for his family of labels over the years. Few of the ones on the album actually had gone gold. I’m sure he was also trying to cash in on the name recognition of artists who had become more well known after their stints with him, such as Lee Dorsey and Aaron Neville. By the time this collection was released in 1969, the record business in New Orleans and elsewhere had changed dramatically from what it was in the salad days of the Fifties and early Sixties. Still, Banashak plugged along, releasing singles on his dwindling stable of singers well into the Seventies.

As chief artist and repertoire man for Banashak between 1959 and 1965,
Allen Toussaint had brought about a huge number of records, including numerous hits and timeless sides. Accordingly, virtually every cut on Solid Gold was either produced, arranged or written by Toussaint, except “Pass The Hatchet” and “It Do Me Good”. In the case of “Young Man, Old Man”, originally issued on Alon, a label specifically set up for Toussaint projects, the group credited on the single, the Stokes, were formed in Texas by Toussaint while he was serving his mandatory military hitch at Ft. Hood. They mainly did instrumentals penned by the leader, trying to capture a catchy hit along the lines of “Java”, the earlier Toussaint composition that Al Hirt took up the charts around 1964. Out of the five Alon singles credited to the Stokes, only “Whipped Cream” made much noise; but, when Herb Alpert quickly covered it and got the airplay, their version died. “Young Man, Old Man” is a danceable, unusually arranged record, with its Bo Diddley beat, Toussaint’s semi-classical piano parts, and the solo horns coming in and out among the rhythmic unisons. It’s certainly unlike any of the group’s other instrumentals. I don’t know why Banashak chose that one for the compilation; but I’m glad he did.

The Stokes, who also made a few sides credited as Al Fayard (see
my prior post) or The Young Ones, didn’t continue once Toussaint got out of the service; and he soon left the employ of Banashak, as well, to partner with Marshall Sehorn and make further musical history. While it’s certainly not the greatest number in his vast catalogue, “Young Man, Old Man” is a unique experimental piece from a transitional time in his career. I’m glad Jim let me tape his album so long ago. I’ve gotten much musical mileage out of it.

Track listing for Solid Gold:
All These Things - Art Neville
Lover Of Lovers - Lee Dorsey
Something You Got - Chris Kenner
Pass The Hatchet - Roger and the Gypsies
It Do Me Good - The Pitter Pats
I've Done It Again - Aaron Neville
Young Man, Old Man - The Stokes
Land Of 1000 Dances - Chris Kenner
Lottie Mo - Lee Dorsey
New Kind Of Love - Willie Harper
I'm Gonna Put Some Hurt On You - Raymond Lewis
For Every Boy There's A Girl - Aaron Neville

June 20, 2006

In The Mood For Snooks

Well, Summer Solstice is just a day away; and my wife and I have been making some travel plans for a bit later in the season. A few days ago I ran across the first of today’s featured songs in my 45 boxes and thought it would make an appropriate post. Besides, for no good reason, I haven’t posted anything by Fird (a/ka Ferd or Ford) ‘Snooks’ Eaglin, Jr. in the year and a half I’ve been doing HOTG. It’s way past time. So, I am putting up a two-fer of early and later Snooks, studio and live. That fine article on the man that I’ve got linked from Blues Access can’t really be much improved on. Get your deep background there and also at this amazing Snooks discography I found. I’ll just talk about the particular songs and recordings themselves for now.

"Travelin' Mood" (James Wayne)
Ford Eaglin, Imperial 5765, 1961

“Travelin’ Mood” was written and originally recorded by Texan bluesman James “Wee Willie” Waynes. That song b/w “I Remember” was recorded in New Orleans with Dave Bartholomew and his legendary session crew and came out on Imperial 5355 in 1955, with his name shown as Wee Willie Wayne. An earlier Waynes recording of “Junco Partner” (as James Waynes on Sittin’ In With 607, recorded in Atlanta) and “Travelin’ Mood”, to a lesser extent, were very influential, often covered by New Orleans artists (Professor Longhar, James Booker, Mac Rebennack, and Snooks, among others) from the 1950’s onward – so much so that most people now consider them New Orleans tunes. After leaving Imperial in the mid-1950’s, Waynes re-joined the label in 1961, resulting in several releases as James Wayne, all non-sellers, including a re-issue of “Travelin’ Mood” (#5725).

While it is not surprising that Snooks, who had very little original material, would record this song during his stint for Imperial with Bartholomew producing, one wonders why they would release it so soon after the James Wayne re-issue . Since that version did not take off, I guess they thought Snooks’ somewhat heavier R&B approach might click. Like several of his other Imperial sides, the record did well around New Orleans, but not elsewhere. It’s a great performance from Snooks, though, with a fine vocal and some of his idiosyncratic guitar playing in evidence. The backing musicians were James Booker on piano, Frank Fields on bass, Smokey Johnson on drums and Mayer Kennedy, Clarence Ford, Clarence Hall, and William Payne on saxes. Eaglin’s work with Bartholomew resulted in nine singles for the label (all showing him as Ford Eaglin), culled from 26 total recorded songs from three separate sessions between 1960 and 1963.

This was the same period in which Bartholomew was producing some of Earl King’s great sides such as “Come On” and “Trick Bag”; and there are similarities in the sound of the productions for these two artists. Unfortunately for both of them and other locals signed to the label at the time (
Fats Domino, Frankie Ford, and Huey Smith), Imperial Records was in a state of decline. It’s owner, Lew Chudd, was losing interest in the business and looking for buyer, and, thus, not investing in the promotion needed to push the records. By 1963, he had sold out to Liberty, thus effectively ending the California label’s nearly15 year association with Bartholomew and New Orleans.

"I Cry Oh" (E. Bocage)
Snooks Eaglin, from Black Top Blues-a-Rama Volume 6, Live At Tipitina's, 1992

I agree with those who think Snooks Eaglin is an artist best appreciated live. His shows can he hit and miss, but he’s on target much more than he’s off. I’ve chosen a CD cut from an out of print Black Top CD of performances of several of their artists at Tipitina’s in 1992. Snooks’ reputation as the Human Jukebox is well-earned, as anyone who’s been to one of his shows can attest; and that is evidenced by this cover of a very obscure Eddie Bo side that originally appeared on Apollo 499 way back in 1956. It seems that if Snooks ever heard a song, he can play it, of course, in his own uniquely funky style. Backing him on the set are famed bassist George Porter, Jr., keyboardist Sammy Berfect (who cut some obscure records as “Bo Jr” back in the day), and the formidable Herman V. Ernest, III (currently in Dr. John’s band) on drums.

Snooks had five outstanding CDs out on the New Orleans-based Black Top label during the 1990s: Baby You Can Get Your Gun, Out Of Nowhere, Teasin’ You, Soul’s Edge and Live In Japan. But Black Top went out of business around the turn of the century, making all of these collectors’ items. If you find any, buy ‘em. I also highly recommend the also out of print Capitol CD comp, Snooks Eaglin: The Complete Imperial Recordings, where you can hear all of his work for the label, including the unissued sides. I’ll try to get back to some of those later, as Snooks is another of those rare, irreplaceable treasures who have contributed so much to the fabric of the Home of the Groove and needs to be heard. And, remember, he’s still alive and giggin’ in his hometown. So, do your best to catch him, awright?

June 16, 2006

Gettin' To The Bonnaroo

"Desitively Bonnaroo" (J. Hill - M. Rebennack)
Dr. John, from Destively Bonnaroo, ATCO, 1974

The sold out Bonnaroo Festival takes place this weekend in Manchester, TN. They’ve got a sampling of New Orleans music there with the Neville Brothers and Toussaint and Costello doing sets. But the most fun will probably be at an all night tent throwdown featuring Dr. John, the Rebirth Brass Band, and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. If you went to any of these, feel free give us a report.

I thought I’d talk a bit about the song that inspired the naming of the festival, Dr. John’s own “Desitively Bonnaroo” from his
1974 ATCO album of the same name. Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) co-wrote today’s feature with Jessie Hill. The two partnered often in Los Angeles, where a number of New Orleans musicians had relocated in the mid-1960’s after the bottom dropped out of the local R&B scene. They all had gone out there looking for fame, fortune, or just plain work in that major hub of the entertainment industry. Hill and Rebennack hung out, wrote together, and started their own publishing company (I Found It) and record label (Free) with another NOLA expatriate, Dave Dixon. One outstanding example of their work together was “When The Battle Is Over”, which was recorded both by Aretha Franklin and Delaney and Bonnie. I suspect that “Destively Bonnaroo” was written during that period, prior to Rebennack taking on the Dr. John persona and signing with Atlantic in 1967. Also a drummer and vocalist, Hill was another one of those genuine New Orleans characters no fiction writer could have invented. Some of his best work involved nonsense lyrics (his only hit “Ooh Poo Pa Doo”, plus “Oogsey Moo” and “Why Holler” - both inspired by Professor Longhair – produced by Toussaint for Minit in 1960-1961); and this song is no exception. Whenever the hell Jesse’s talking about, Rebennack's recording makes it worth hearing.

As with Dr. John’s previous ATCO LP,
In The Right Place, Allen Toussaint did the producing and arranging on this one; and the core band for the sessions were the Meters. The results were quite good, as you might expect; but the album wasn’t nearly as successful as it’s predecessor, which contained the only two hits of Dr. John’s career, “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Such A Night”. With Toussaint and the Meters on board and Rebennack composing most of the tunes, both albums had plenty of great grooves. On “Desitively Bonnaroo” listen to Zigaboo’s main repeated drum pattern of five beats on the kick followed by a single snare pop, then there’s that syncopated hit-hat pick-up every couple of bars. Maybe a drummer could explain it all. I can’t, other than to say it seems far from Zig's typical approach. Not that Zig isn’t a gifted, original drummer; but, I’m sure that pattern was Toussaint’s doing, as he directed tight sessions, often writing parts for all the players, including the drummer. As I’ve noted before regarding the Toussaint Treatment, the results were frequently outstanding, but not always funky. He often had drummers play beats in unusual ways and used syncopation (an element of funk) in the various instrumental parts. Those and other creative techniques imparted a focused, ear-catching pop charm to the music, making it more commercial, but not ordinary by any means. The two records Dr. John made in collaboration with Toussaint stand out for that reason among his many recordings and served to boost the roots artist higher into the general public’s consciousness at the time. Certainly not a bad thing to happen in the course of a career. That there is also plenty of credible funk quotient on many of those tracks just goes to show how well Toussaint served Dr. John, the spirit of his music, and the audience – the mark of a truly great producer.

[6/18/2006] This comment just came in from our HOTG correspondent, Dwight Richards, drummer for Chocolate Milk and frequent session player at Sea-Saint Studios during the mid to late 1970's. I often move Dwight's comments up top, as he was on the scene at many sessions run by Allen Toussaint, and has much experience with his style of production and arranging, plus many useful and enjoyable insights on New Orleans music in general. Dwight writes:

Yes, that sounds lke a typical Toussaint drum arrangement. I hadn't really listened to that track before, but obviously it is not Zig's natural playing. it reminds me somewhat of the pattern I was given by Toussaint on the track "Girl Callin". Typically Allen would arrange every drum beat on some songs. And this sounds like one.

Thanks, Dwight. I don't know about you, but I think you got off easier, at least compared to the strange program Toussaint has Zig running on "Desitively Bonnaroo", although it's all relative. They are different songs. I'm sure, though, that you found the arrangement on "Girl Callin'" demanding, as it does have an intricate drum part. My hat's off to you guys for having the expertise (and patience!) to play these prescribed patterns so damn well.

June 12, 2006

Plas Plays It Pulpy

"Downstairs" (Shanklin - Harris)
Plas Johnson, Capitol 4251, 1959

Another day, another instrumental, completely different from the last. No funk here; but this well arranged and produced period piece from sax giant Plas Johnson is heavy on the atmosphere.

Although I’ve got a few of Johnson’s singles from the 1950’s and a re-issue LP and CD of his Tampa releases of the era, I hadn’t heard “Downstairs” until I found it on the above pictured French album, which compiles many of his Capitol sides from 1957 - 1959. I picked it up in San Francisco back in the early 1990’s on a momentous sojourn where I made it to nearly twenty record stores in the Bay Area in five days (but still missed a few). I’ve loved it out there since my first trip (!) in June, 1967, the Summer of Love (when record collecting was - cough, cough - not my top priority). Since then, I’ve made it back about once a decade. There were some pretty good vinyl shops in the Haight and environs on that last excursion; and I hope they’re still some left next time I go.

The single, “Downstairs” b/w “The Loop”, was recorded in Los Angeles, where Plas Johnson was already well-established as a first call session player, having relocated from the New Orleans area early in his career. You can look at his extremely impressive
discographies by genre at his website to see how much of him you’ve probably heard without realizing it over the years. On “Downstairs”, the players are among a number of regulars who, with Plas, made plenty of LA recording dates in those days: Ray Johnson (Plas’ brother) or Ernie Freeman on piano, Red Callender on bass, Louisiana-born Rene Hall, Irving Ashby, or Bill Pittman on guitar, and New Orleans native, the mighty Earl Palmer on drums. Palmer’s beats are fat and prominent on this number; and you’ve got to love that breakdown he shares with Plas, whose playing is incredibly hip and fluid throughout.

This swingin’ rocker hits me like the theme song for some lost TV private detective series or grade B film-noire, inspiring pulp-fiction Fifties fantasies. The pop music production lines cranked out plenty of great sax instrumentals during the decade; and Plas Johnson was well in for his share. I count “Downstairs” as one of his best.

Note: The only CD comp containing "Downstairs" I could find is
Hip To The Jive.

June 09, 2006

More Shreveport Funk

"A Girl In France" (Villery)
African Music Machine, Soul Power 111, 1973

Here's a weekend offering for ya, as I continue working on getting set up in our new abode. Back in November, I featured a cut from the African Music Machine, the house band at Sound City Studios in Shreveport, LA during the early to mid-1970’s. You can read about ‘em on that post, as I don’t really have any new information, other than what my buddy, Art Edmaiston, contributed about the bass player and leader of the group, Louis Villery. I added Art’s comments to that post; but, briefly, Villery is Tunisian (thus the African connection) and was in Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s band prior to setting up shop in Shreveport. Later in his career, he rejoined Bland, which is where Art, who did a stint on the road in the BBB horn section, met him. Contrary to some information floating around the ‘net on Villery and the AMM, I don’t think they were ever based in New Orleans, as all but Villery were from the Shreveport area.

“A Girl In France”, a groove with a high funk quotient employing that familiar and somewhat Middle Eastern sounding riff, was the flip side of “Tropical”, from Soul Power 111, the second of the African Music Machine’s four singles for the label. As with that other side, which I posted previously, drummer Louis Acorn pulls off some particularly herky-jerky syncopations on this one; and Villery’s bass is prominent in the arrangement and the mix, as might be expected, since he produced and arranged all the tracks. To me, there's an afro-pop feel to the band's horn charts that I find seriously diggable. Anyway, nothing ground-breaking here; but, still, it’s a high-spirited, fun-loving number to shake some rump to as summer keeps comin’ on. Loose booty, y’all.

June 07, 2006

Sho' Nuff Gonna Miss Billy Preston

Ms Merry

"Sho' Nuff" (B. Preston - J. Greene)
Merry Clayton, from Merry Clayton, Ode, 1971

I was sorry to read today of the passing of Billy Preston. While he was not a New Orleans cat, he was still a soulful and funky songwriter, keyboardist and singer. He had that rare ability to function as a valuable sideman or a powerful performer up front; and he did have his HOTG connections. In his youth he toured backing New Orleans-born gospel queen Mahalia Jackson; and, right as he was breaking out with his own big hits in the early 1970’s, he collaborated with Merry Clayton on her two albums for Ode, Gimme Shelter and Merry Clayton, playing keyboards on various tracks and contributing material. I am sure the two had numerous prior contacts, having been on the Los Angeles music scene for many years. She returned the favor, singing on Preston’s 1971 album, I Wrote A Simple Song.

An impressive singer birthed and raised in the Crescent City, Ms Clayton never quite broke through as a solo artist, remaining better remembered to most for her background vocals on various stars' projects: the Rolling Stones, the Who, Joe Cocker, Carole King, et al. Also of note to HOTG hounds are her background appearances on Allen Toussaint’s first LP in 1970 and the Mylon Lefevre album, Mylon, that Toussaint produced that same year (see my recent post on Lefevre). While not big sellers, Clayton’s Ode albums were nonetheless impressive affairs, full of great vocals and impressive playing from top L.A. studio guns, and are well worth seeking out. I featured a cut from her first LP
way back in 2004.

I’ve chosen “Sho’ Nuff” from her 1971 follow-up to Gimme Shelter, as it was co-written by Billy Preston and surely features him on keys. It’s got that classic Church of Soul feel to it, revealing the composer’s roots. Clayton does a fine job on it, too. Just listen to her warm, righteous delivery and wonder how she’s been overlooked so long.

I remember watching Shindig on TV when I was a teenager in the mid-1960’s, and seeing an oh-so-cool Billy Preston playing organ in the show band. He wasn’t much older than me. Of course, his visibility went up exponentially when he sat in with the Beatles in the studio and on film at the end of their run. Then he had that string of monster pop hits in the 1970’s. Several other mp3 bloggers have done posts on him since news of his illness hit; and I am sure you’ll find many more tributes coming. Hate to see him go so young.

Thanks for all the music, Mr. Billy.

June 02, 2006

Hearing Mr. Rivers

Feels good getting back to music posting. Sure, most of my archives are still in boxes stacked about the new place; but the sound system is set up, the ol’ PC is connected again to the internet, and I’ve got a record to write about. So, let’s go. . . [and, of course, nothing went, as Blogger has been clogged most of the day. So it is, when there are, what, 300 bazillion blogs?]

"I Hear Ya" (James Rivers)
James Rivers, JB's 7042, mid-1970's

Here’s a 45 side by a cat with heavy musical connections in New Orleans. I featured an album cut by the James Rivers Quartet early on in HOTG’s existence; and you can read that linked post for what I had to say then about this reedman who has been blowing in bands and on record for over 40 years. There’s not a lot of background available; but I’ve pieced together what I could find, including a somewhat ragged discography* of releases under his own name.

Biographical information on James Rivers is somewhat limited. According to information in the notes to his LP, Thrill Me, he was born in New Orleans in 1938 and was one of six children of Ernest Rivers and wife. He started playing music as a child of eight; and, after graduating high school, attended Houston School of Music. In the late 1950’s, he was a saxophonist in Huey Smith’s band, the Clowns. By 1959, he could be found doing session work for Ric and Ron Records, taking the sax solo, for example, on Al Johnson’s Mardi Gras classic, “Carnival Time”, which was recorded in December of that year. His first (I believe) solo 45 soon followed on Ron, credited to the Jimmy Rivers Combo. 

Also in 1960, he played in the horn section on some of Earl King’s first sessions for Imperial, such as “Come On”, and had another solo record out the next year on Instant. During this time, Rivers was also a member of the Skyliners, a touring band led by saxophonist and bassist Bill Sinigal (who wrote a true New Orleans standard, “ The Second Line”). They backed up local singers with records out, as well as nationally known artists such as Jerry Butler and the Impressions. Rivers then made at least four more instrumental singles around 1966 for Eight Ball in New Orleans and was a regular player on sessions produced by Wardell Quezergue for Nola Records, Robert Parker’s big hit, “Barefootin’ being especially notable.

In the later 1960’s, Rivers had three known releases on Kon-Ti and one on Pan before hooking up with producer and hustler Senator Jones, who cut numerous sides on the instrumentalist during the mid to late 1970’s, releasing many 45’s and two LP’s on his J-Bees/J.B.’s label. Virtually all of those productions were recorded at Sea-Saint Studios using many of the fine musicians** hanging about the place looking to pick up session work every day.

For today’s selection from JB’s 7042, I’ve picked “I Hear Ya”, which features Rivers on flute. The other side, “The Center Cut” is a decent sax workout; but I find it just a tad less engaging. I usually prefer Rivers, a wind instrument multi-tasker, on the sax; but he gives this one a good go and the rhythm section is cookin’. Just listen to that pumpin’ and poppin’ bass player (possibly George Porter, Jr.?) tearing it up and in tight with the fine drum groove going on. After listening to this track many times, I’m going to give my best non-professional guess that Allen Toussaint is radiatin’ the 88’s on this one. It’s the piano chord voicings, the runs, and that way-cool solo that lead me to the conclusion.

In the brief notes to the Mardi Gras CD,
Best of New Orleans Rhythm & Blues Volume Three: James Rivers, which compiles 14 of James Rivers’ JB’s tracks (the sides of this 45 are not among them), the saxophonist is quoted by Jeff Hannusch talking about the Senator Jones sessions. He recalls that although pianist Raymond Jones (a/k/a Ray J, who also made a some records as a vocalist for Senator Jones) was credited with arranging the sessions, pretty much nothing was written out. ‘Head arrangements’ were worked up by the players around the basic melody lines provided by Rivers. There is a long tradition in New Orleans recording of giving the players latitude to develop their own parts, although two of the most successful producers/arrangers, Toussaint and Quezergue, usually didn’t work that way. Anyway, this was a Senator session, so I am sure it was cheaper to let the musicians do some additional (uncompensated) work. A lot of the Senator Jones records of this era on other artists (Johnny Adams, Bobby Powell, Barbara George, and Tommy Ridgley, to name just a few), had a generic, production-line quality to the musical backing that detracted from the strength of the overall product. He didn’t spend a cent more than he had to. But, in the case of “I Hear Ya” and some of James Rivers' other records of the period, the results were better. As he said of his work with the Jones’, “. . . for that era, that material was damn good.”

Mr. Rivers in action

*An Incomplete Discography of James Rivers’ Solo Recordings
45’sRon 333 “The Blue Eagle” (Parts 1 & 2) – 1960 – Jimmy Rivers Combo
Instant 3232 “Just A Closer Walk With Thee”/”Take Your Choice – 1961
Eight Ball 1560 “Bird Brain”/”Tighten Up” – mid-1960’s
Eight Ball 1561 “Crying The Blues”/”Deep In My Heart” - mid-1960’s
Eight Ball 1562 “Bad Bad Whiskey” (Parts 1& 2) – mid-1960’s
Eight Ball 2555 "Let's Live" / "You Don't Know Me" - mid-160s
Kon-Ti 1160 “Get With It”/”It’s All Over” – late 1960’s?
Kon-Ti 1168 “My Determination”/”Soul Searchin’” – late 1960’s?

Kon-Ti 1169 - "Fonky Flute"/"Unchained Melody" - late 1960's?
Pan 101 “Birdbrain”/”Oh Happy Day” late 1960’s?
J.B.'s 130 "Whenever You Want My Love" / "Ole Pt II"
J.B.’s 136 “Second Line” (Parts 1 & 2) – mid-1970’s
J.B.’s 148 “Dance The Night Away”/”I’ll Love You Forever” mid- 1970’s
J.B.’s 154 “Thrill Me”/”Take It All” – mid-1970’s

J.B.'s 7042 "The Center Cut"/"I Hear Ya" - mid-1970's
JB’s 8235 “Disco Lady”/”Midnight Blues” – 1980’s?

JB’s 101 Thrill Me –mid-1970’s
JB’s (103) Ole – mid-1970’s
Spindletop 101 The Dallas Sessions – 1985 – James Rivers Quartet

This information was derived from various sources, but mainly The R&B Indies. Also helpful, as usual, was Peter, a trans-Atlantic contributor with many singles I don't have, who provided the information on Eight-Ball 2555 (which is not shown in the Indies and was unknown to me), and also on J.B.'s 103 and 130.

** These are some of the players on the James Rivers JB's sessions from the 1970’s:
Keyboards – Raymond Jones, Wardell Quezergue, Isaac Bolden, Sam Henry, Allen Toussaint
Guitar – Leo Nocentelli, Steve Hughes, Walter Washington, Daryl Johnson, Teddy Royal, Jimmy Moliere
Bass – Walter Payton, George Porter, Jr., David Barard, Emmanuel Morris
Drums – James Black, Smokey Johnson, Herman Ernest, Wilbert Arnold

Horns: James Rivers, Clyde Kerr, Amadee Castenell, Edward 'Kid' Jordan