April 30, 2007

Having A Double Blast

[UPDATED 3/16/2012]

I think both sides of this obscure single deserve hearing, even though the featured singer is not from New Orleans, and the tracks were not even recorded there. After all, Wardell Quezergue was the producer and arranger.

"Two Time One Is Two" (Frederick Knight - Aaron Varnell)
C. L. Blast, Crestown 1000, ca 1970

"Love Is Good" (Albert Savoy - Wardell Quezergue)
C. L. Blast, Crestown 1000, ca 1970

The surprisingly unheralded soul vocalist C. L. Blast was originally from Birmingham, Alabama, where he came into the world as Clarence Lewis, Jr. By 1954, he was in New York recording for Bobby Robinson's Red Robin label as Clarence 'Junior' Lewis, with one single issued in 1955. In 1960, he cut at least three more singles for Robinson's Fury label, using his given name on one and Little Junior Lewis for the other two. He also did some songwriting and possibly production/engineering work for Robinson's operations in that period. And therein lies the New Orleans link. He shares co-writer credit with Lee Dorsey and Robinson on Lee's first giant Fury hit, "Ya Ya" from 1961. I do not know the extent of their collaboration or exactly why Lewis' name is on the record, as Robinson claims that when he came to town to record Dorsey, he and Lee got together and wrote the song in a New Orleans bar. Interestingly, Lewis also has writing credits on some other major Fury/Fire tunes of the era, including Elmore James' blues classic, "The Sky Is Crying", Buster Brown's "Fannie Mae", and the Don Gardner/Dee Dee Ford raver, "I Need Your Lovin'". Once he separated from Robinson, Lewis recorded for Columbia, Scepter, and MGM during the decade. But his recording career did not make much noise, even though he was blessed with a strong, emotive voice.

Lewis reappeared in 1967 as C. L. Blast on a single released both on Stax and, for some reason, on its subsidiary, Hip, too; but his association with either of the Memphis, TN labels went no further. Those sides appeared on the Stax CD box set reissue series some years back and were my first introduction to the singer. Around 1970, Blast made three records under the direction of Wardell Quezergue. As well as the sides I'm featuring, they were "Everybody Just Don't Know What Love Is" b/w "Got To Find Someone" * on Pelican and "What Can I Do" b/w "I'm In A Daze" ** for United Records. Though all good records, none of them hit pay-dirt; and Blast kept moving through the rest of the Seventies and early Eighties, recording for the Clintone, Juana, Cotillion and Park Place labels, never getting the attention that his rich vocal talents deserved. From looking at his BMI songwriting credits, I believe that later in life he took up gospel music.

I first heard "Two Time One Is Two" and "Love Is Good" on the Funky Delicacies compilation,
Wardell Quezergue's Funky Funky New Orleans and put the single on my seach list. It took some time, but I finally found this near mint siingle, which sounds a bit better than the vinyl source used for that CD. The Crestown imprint seems to have been a one-shot deal, as I can find no other listings for it. At the time, Quezergue and business partner Elijah Walker were calling their operation Pelican Productions, which issued this 45 and ran the associated Pelican label, as well. Pelican released a short list of singles, including the one by Blast mentioned earlier; but no commercial rewards were forthcoming from any of them.

At the time that Blast came to them, Wardell was doing a lot of work at and with Malaco Studio in Jackson, MS, most notably bringing Jean Knight and King Floyd there to record and producing their first smash hits. His main impetus for the change of venue out of New Orleans was the demise of Cosimo Matassa's Jazz City studio and Dover Records distributorship that so many local producers and small labels had depended on. Working in conjunction with Malaco, Wardell and Walker brought many more mostly New Orleans artists to Malaco, especially during the first year or so of the association. I don't know how Blast first got connected with Wardel/Walker; but his career was at loose ends at the time, so the chance to work with a producer of of Big Q's caliber must have seemed promising.

The arrangements on these tracks are not the stripped down hybrid funk of the early Floyd and Knight records. Instead, they are fine examples of Quezergue's other mode of more uptown, orchestrated soul-pop directed at the mainstream market. With the fine musicians Malaco had on hand to bring the arrangments to life and Blast's sure-fire delivery of the vocal goods, it's a mystery why none of the tracks he did at Malaco found their way to a major label and onto the charts.

The fact that this single as well of the others have languished for over 30 years in relative obscurity should in no way imply that they were not damn fine records. But the music business is littered with great tunes, impressive productions, talented artists, and good intentions that went absolutely nowhere for a variety of reasons. Let's just be glad some of them still turn up now and again for our time-shifted enjoyment and appreciation.

* Also available on Wardell Quezergues's Funky Funky New Orleans.
** Available on
Sixty Smokin' Soul Senders

See ya next week, after the next round of festing. . . .

April 26, 2007

A Pause for Festing.....

The sound you don't hear is me heading off for the first weekend of Jazzfest in New Orleans, leaving behind my posting duties until next week. I'll have another rare cut that invovled Wardell Quezergue then, followed by a second weekend at the festival, and several more gems in the WQ series after that.

Hope you'll be festing, too, if not in New Orleans, then somewhere. Me, I'm really ready for my softshell crab poboy and three solid days (and a couple of nights) of music overload and inspiration. Catch ya on the flip side.......

April 20, 2007

Quezergue Onstage and Behind The Scenes

[UPDATED 3/17/2012]

From left, Quezergue, Sam Henry, Charlie Moore, Tony Owens, and unidentified band members at the 2007 French Quarter Festival

Going to the final day of the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans last weekend inspired me to do a series of posts on some more records that Wardell Quezergue had a hand in birthing. Sunday afternoon, I got to see the fine band that he put together for the festival and was directing from a chair on stage left. We got there after the start of the set; and they were cooking on a jazz/funk instrumental. When that ended, singer Tony Owens came to the stage and let loose with a string of outstanding vocal performances on some of the tunes that he had recorded back in the 1970s and some classic blues and soul. After that rare treat, Al Johnson got up and sang his local seasonal standard, "Carnival Time". He had us all thinking it was Mardi Gras again.

Though obviously not in the best of health, Quezergue led the band of seasoned players with enthusiasm and class, impressing everybody with his arranging talents. There on the riverside, I had another one of those overwhelming experiences - a New Orleans Moment - hearing that music directly from the musicians who have given so much to their local culture and to the world, and are still at it - and all over it. There are those of you who know what I'm talking about. For those who don't, you simply must hear New Orleans music live sometime, somewhere, but especially in the city itself. Recordings are, at best, artificial constructs only able to hint (if we're lucky) at the magic of a live performance. No matter how many you buy or listen to, you're still far removed from the real deal. Of course, many of the real deals are no longer with us; but its the ones still kickin' you need to support and appreciate while we've still got 'em.

The sermon being over, let's kick off the musical portion of the service with something Wardell produced after his association with Malaco Records in Jackson, Mississippi had ended. The company really owes much of its existence to the talented artists and great songs he brought to the studio from New Orleans between 1970 and 1973 which really helped them get recognized with some substantial hits and quality production work that influenced their musical direction for many years. Though this record was not cut at Malaco, it ended up being released on their label

"E-Ni-Me-Ni-Mi-Ni-Mo" (Small-Quezergue-Royal)Elliott Small, Malaco 1031, 1975
(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

"E-Ni-Me-Ni-Mi-Ni-Mo (Part 2)"
(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

Deftly arranged by Wardell, this fine funk groove was recorded at Sea-Saint studio in New Orleans, probably in 1975. The featured artist,
Elliott (a/k/a Elliot) Small, produced the session and co-wrote the song along with Wardell and guitarist Teddy Royal. According Rob Bowman's notes to the box set, The Last Soul Company, Small, who had recorded previously for Malaco when Wardell was working there, brought the master tape to the Jackson studio early in 1976, hoping they could find a company to release it. Instead, they purchased the master and released it themselves.

Shortly before this single's release, Dorothy Moore's "Misty Blue" 45 had come out on Malaco and hit almost immediate paydirt, bringing the faltering company back to life financially. Unfortunately, Small's two-parter did not continue the trend and sank with hardly a ripple. He and Wardell may have been trying to revive the kind of feel that had been successful earlier for King Floyd at Malaco when he was working with Big Q, and his records were being released  on the Chimneyville subsidiary. In fact, Small even affected some of Floyd's vocal mannerisms on the song; but nobody went for the funkified children's chant, no matter how danceable it was.

ased on my extensive discussions with Teddy Royal, I know that he worked and collaborated regualrly with Wardell on sessions in the 1970s, mostly at Sea-Saint. He would often come up with melodies, riffs and basic grooves for songs, often without credit, that Big Q would then develop into full arrangementsand and record. The way it probably worked on this tune was that Small came to them with an idea and lyrics that Royal and the arranger helped shape into the song. I would also assume that Teddy played one of the guitar parts on the track. That's Elliott
taking the unique harmonica solo on the back side.

I must confess that in the year and a half since I posted Elliott Small's earlier, much different pop collaboration with Quezergue,
"Girls Are Made For Lovin'" (note: audio re-activated while this post is hot), I haven't learned much more about the singer/songwriter, even after several phone conversations and meeting him. Shortly after that post, I was contacted by friends of Elliott who live outside of Baton Rogue and had taken him in after Katrina. They had found my piece on him and wanted me to know where he was. When he finally moved back to New Orleans, they gave me his cell phone number; and I talked to him several times. He confirmed that, as I had discovered in my research, for a number of years he has been one of the regular street performers in the French Quarter, where he goes by the name of 'Grandpa', playing harmonica and singing. At the time of Katrina, he was partnered with blues performer Stoney B; and they had played at least one gig at a music festival. But it seems they were separated by the storm. Anyway, Elliott was much more interested in having me help him try to get gigs than in talking about the past and his record-making days of long ago. So, I gave him the number of a guy I know who used to book blues acts and, I thought, might be able to help; but I don't think they ever connected. The last time I spoke with Elliott he was back performing on the street; and I introduced myself to him between songs, as he was playing tunes with two women outside Cafe Du Monde. I'm not sure he even knew who I was. Next time I see him though, I'm going to drop a goodly amount in the kitty and request "E-Ni-Me-Ni-Mi-Ni-Mo".

[Update 2010: As you may know, Elliott has become something of a sensation in the US and abroad as a result of participating in Playing For Change. He has been touring here and internationally as a result and performed at Jazzfest for the first time this year. It's great that he's had this success; and I can only wish him even more.

The both sides of this single, plus a number of other Quezergue productions can be heard on that CD box set Malaco retrospective I mentioned,
The Last Soul Company, if you can find it. [It is now out of print.]

April 13, 2007

Another Look At Elton Anderson

"(Sorry) I'm Gonna Have To Pass" (Leiber & Stoller)
Elton Anderson, Lanor 514, 1963

Last year, I did some research on Elton Anderson for Red Kelly's fine Soul Detective blog. I really hadn't paid much attention to Anderson's work before that, being mainly familiar with his 1962 regional hit, "Life Problem" on Lanor Records, as it has been comped on numerous Swamp Pop collections; but, when Red was trying to figure out who had recorded a rockin' version of "Sick and Tired" he had on a tape, I discovered that it was the flip of side of that hit and had been recorded in New Orleans. Liking Anderson's voice and intrigued that he recorded some of his Lanor sides at Cosimo Matassa's studio, I started acquiring some of his singles, the following being my most recent find. Most of this piece on Anderson is a reworking of what I wrote for Soul Detective.

During 1956 and 1957, guitarist and vocalist Elton Anderson, from Lake Charles, LA, was regularly featured with the Sid Lawrence Band at the Southern Club in Opelousas, LA. Impressed with the singer, Wayne Shuler, who was working with his dad, Eddie, owner of Goldband Records in Lake Charles, LA, cut a record on Anderson during that time and brought it to Johnny Vincent (Imbragulio) at Ace Records, who was recording a lot of New Orleans artists, who were starting to generate some hits. Vincent released the Anderson single, "Shed So Many Tears" b/w "Roll On Train", on his new subsidiary label, Vin Records, in 1958. When that single didn't connect, Shuler approached Joe Banashak, also in New Orleans, who was just starting Valiant Records (which would soon be renamed Instant), to be followed by Minit, Alon, 7B, Bandy, and other related imprints. Banashak and Shuler partnered on the Trey label, releasing two 45's on Anderson in 1959. The second of these, "Secret Of Love" b/w "Cool Down Baby" was picked up and released nationally by Mercury Records, which was also putting out other regional Louisiana R&B/rock 'n' roll (later to be known as Swamp Pop), such as Phil Phillips' "Sea Of Love". Anderson’s "Secret Of Love" charted in 1960 and rang up good sales. But his two follow-up 45's for Mercury in 1960 and 1961 did not fare nearly as well; and the label dropped him.

Thus, around 1962, Wayne Shuler contacted Lee Lavergne, who had recently started Lanor Records in Church Point, LA, about releasing several sides by Anderson that Mercury had passed on. Since Anderson was a well-known regional artist who had a previous hit, Lavergne jumped at the chance and issued "Humpty Dumpty Heart" b/w "Don't Touch Me Baby", but to little avail. Undaunted, Lavergne next had Anderson record "Life Problem", originally done by Guitar Gable (with King Karl on vocal) for Excello in 1956.

The sessions for that single (Lanor 509) were done at Cosimo's, with Wardell Quezergue arranging; and it is probable that Mac Rebennack produced. A cover of the Chris Kenner classic, "Sick and Tired" (hear it at Soul Detective), was chosen for the other side; and the obviously top shelf studio band helped Anderson lay down a smokin' version. Although musician credits are lacking, one of my many knowledgeable correspondents, BBB, has informed me that Katie Webster played piano on the tracks.

"Life Problem" (which can also be heard at Soul Detective) became very popular locally and interested Capitol Records enough to arrange with Lanor to release it nationally, though the record ended up not doing much for them. After they tried again with another Anderson 45, Capitol lost interest; and Anderson's few remaining releases were issued on Lanor around 1963. "I'm Gonna Have to Pass" was his next record after Capitol had cut and run. It was recorded at the same venue, with Quezergue credited as 'orchestra' conductor. Typical of the many popeye style records with the the stutter-step shuffle beat that came out of the Crescent City at this time, the cut is well-played; and Anderson turns in an impressive vocal on the Leiber & Stoller composition; but there just wasn't much to distinguish the song from the many other similar sounding records of the day, I guess. When the next two singles also did not sell, Elton Anderson left Louisiana for California; and, as far as I know, did not record again.

Elton Anderson Discography

Vin 1001 “Shed So Many Tears” / “Roll On Train” – 1958
Trey 1002 “I Love You” / “Want A Come Back Home”– 1959
Trey 1011 “Secret Of Love” / “Cool Down Baby” – 1959
Mercury 71542 “Secret Of Love” / “Cool Down Baby” – 1959
Mercury 71643 “Walking Alone” / “Crying The Blues” - 1960
Mercury 71777 “Please Accept My Love” / “I Love You Cheri” -1961
Lanor 507 “Humpty Dumpty Heart” / Don’t Touch Me Baby” – 1962
Lanor 509 “Life Problem” / “Sick And Tired” – 1962
Capitol 4762 “Life Problem” / “Sick And Tired” – 1962
Capitol 4830 “Shed So Many Tears” / “That’s How It’s Been” - 1962
Lanor 514 “(Sorry) I’m Gonna Have To Pass” / “I Love You So” –1963
Lanor 516 “The Crawl Pt 1” / “The Crawl Pt 2” - 1963
Lanor 518 “Bye Bye Little Angel” / “Don’t Touch Me Baby” - 1963
Goldband GNG 107 (EP) "Shed So Man Tears" & Cool Down Baby" Elton Anderson / "Family Rules" & "The Crawl" Guitar, Jr.(Golden Nugget re-issue series - date unknown)

Funky As A Georgia Grasshopper?

Since I am focusing on Lanor Records this week, I though I'd pull out this side, too, as an example of how you often can't assume anything about a record just by the label it is on. In this case, although it appeared on this small Louisiana label, "Funky Grasshopper" turns out to be by a Georgia-based artist and was recorded there, too.

"Funky Grasshopper" (H. Boynton)
Hugh Boynton and Salt and Pepper, Lanor 571, ca. 1972

As I understand it, Hugh Boynton's manager in Georgia approached Lanor owner Lee Lavergne about recording the singer and arrangements were made to cut sessions at Capricorn Studios in Macon, probably around 1970-1971. I believe that all the material for Boynton's four Lanor releases was recorded at these sessions. Whoever Salt and Pepper were, perhaps the female back-up singers, it seems they only got co-billing on this one release, which turned out to be Boyton's final single for the label. His other sides were more soul and blues oriented. I haven't found that he had any subsequent releases after his run on Lanor.

I first learned of "Funky Grasshopper" on Larry Grogan's Funky 16 Corners webzine; and, recognizing the label but not the artist, I added it to my always lengthy want list for further investigation. Eventually, I found a copy at a reasonable price and started researching it, only to discover its Georgia origins. While it probably has no Louisianans playing on it, this track pretty much lives up to the modifier in its title. I like the music, but find the lyics lame and Boynton's vocal not all that impressive. With no session musician information for his Lanor sides to be found, I can but guess that at least some of the players might have been from the regular house band at Capricorn in those days: Johnny Sandlin, drums, 'Pops' Popwell, bass, Paul Honsby, keyboards, and Pete Carr, guitar. Of course, back then, the early Allman Brothers Band were cutting there; and most of the sessions for Johnny Jenkins' swampy, funk-infused Ton Ton Macoute! album originated there, as well, about 1970. While I've read that Duane Allman played on one of Ella Brown's Lanor sides, also recorded at Capricorn around 1971, I don't think he's on Boynton's "Grasshopper". Interestingly, around this time, Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn were using Capricorn to record the Meters, as Cosimo's studio had been closed down by the IRS and their new Sea-Saint Studio was not yet completed. In another HOTG connection to Macon, Capricorn's owner, Phil Walden, was managing Dr. John during the early 1970s and trying to get the Meters on his roster, too. So, I there was definitely some kind of New Orleans/Louisiana vibe around the place in those days.

But, since this funky grasshopper turns out to be from Georgia, we'll chalk the investigation up to experience. Live and learn. As decent a track as it is, any Louisiana link to this one is tenuous at best.

[Update, 2008]: I really should have updated this last year due to the comment I received shortly after posting, which you can read for yourself. That comment started a chain of investigation and events that is still ongoing. The short version is that the commenter, Chris, pointed out that the backing track for this side is identical to the backing for a single by James Duncan that came out on Federal around the same time. And he's right. The Federal version, with different (and better) lyrics and vocal sounds much better that Boynton's rather murky Lanor side. Come to find out, the b-sides of both Duncan's and Boynton's singles have identical instrumentation, too!!! I turned the investigation over to Red Kelly and his cohorts at Soul Detective; and you can read all about the ongoing research on this strange mystery there. The record business often has its share of shady deals and outright rip offs going down. So, while I'm not exactly shocked by the fact that somebody stole some backing tracks, it's something I haven't seen happen quite like this. We may never find out the hows and whys; but we're trying.]

April 10, 2007

Yet Another Fantastic Reason To Listen to WWOZ

******* MEDIA RELEASE *******

The radio documentaries Michael Ward: True Funk Shenanigans and You Got To Know How To Pony: The Story of Chris Kenner produced by David Kunian and Bill Taylor, will be played twice each in April on WWOZ, 90.7 FM, Community Radio for the Crescent City. The dates and times are Thursday, April 12 at noon and 10 PM and Wednesday, April 18 at noon and 10 PM.

These two half hour long documentaries were produced for The Center for Gulf South History and Culture and Jackbeat Productions via a grants from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and the Louisiana Division of the Arts. These programs were produced by writer and producer David Kunian and Tipitinas Foundation Executive Director Bill Taylor (Michael Ward). Kunian has completed many radio projects in New Orleans, including the Silver Reel winning Meet All Your Fine Friends: The Dew Drop Inn in New Orleans, the Silver Reel winning James Carroll Booker III: The Life, Music, and Mystique of the Bayou Maharajah, The Things I Used to Do: The Legend of Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, Come On, Baby, Let the Good Times Roll: The Stories and Music of Earl King, Guardian of the Groove: New Orleans Drummer and Composer James Black, and The Classic Mardi Gras Songs Project.

Born in Kenner, Louisiana, and brought up in New Orleans, Chris Kenner is one of the great unsung musicians in the history of the Crescent City. Kenner wrote the top hits “Land of 1,000 Dances” and “I Like It Like That” and the classic songs “Sick and Tired,” “Something You Got,” among others. His songs have been done by everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis and the Dave Clark Five to the J. Geils Band and Wilson Pickett. He worked with such geniuses as Dave Bartholomew, Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, and Earl Palmer. Kenner was not only famous for his songwriting skills, but he also was known for his laissez-faire, happy-go-lucky life style. Chris Kenner was a true New Orleans original. The program consists of Kenner's music and recollections and interviews about him from the people who knew him and worked with him including Allen Toussaint, Deacon John, James “Sugar Boy” Crawford, Cosimo Matassa, Robert Parker, Tad Joans, Bobby McLaughlin, Red Morgan, and others.

Percussionist Michael Ward grew up in New Orleans and played music here his entire life. He had several bands in his career, the most famous one of which was the Reward. He also played with Harry Connick Jr., John Mooney, Charmaine Neville and Wardell Quezerque Big Band. Michael Ward was one of those unsung, under-the-radar characters in New Orleans whose influence is felt, but not seen. In addition to his musical endeavors, Michael Ward was a true New Orleans character. The stories that are traded in bars and coffee shops about him are poignant and hilarious. His band Reward had members who included former Galactic frontman Theryl De Clouet, keyboardist Glenn Hartmann and guitarist Jonathan Frelich of the New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, guitarist and songwriter Alex McMurray, bassist Cornell Williams of the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, and guitarist June Yamagichi of Papa Gros Funk and the Wild Magnolias. These people are interviewed in the documentary with other New Orleans luminaries including Charmaine Neville, John Mooney and producers Mark Bingham and Tracey Freeman.

There will also be a premiere party for the documentaries at the Maple Leaf Bar, 8316 Oak St., on Saturday, April 14 at 10 P.M. Both documentaries will be played, and there will be reunion of Michael Ward's band Reward with former members including vocalist Theryl “Houseman” DeClouet (Galactic, Reward, Hollygrove), guitarist June Yamagishi (Papa Gros Funk/Wild Magnolias), bassist Cornell Williams (Jon Cleary's Absolute Monster Gentlemen/Friendly Travelers) and drummer Jelly Bean (Marva Wright, Jon Cleary's Absolute Monster Gentlemen) and other special guests.

Thanks to David Kunian, a true New Orleans music expert, for letting me/us know about this. His projects are always well-done. So catch them if you can. Maybe see you at the party, too.

April 06, 2007

Bisbee, AZ Pays Tribute to New Orleans Music

Tomorrow, April 7, 2007, KBRP, Radio Free Bisbee, will broadcast a New Orleans music special from 12:00 Noon - 2:30 PM US Mountain Time* (19:00:00 UTC/GMT for you outside the US, if that helps). You can hear the show via the internet program stream linked at their website. I bring this up because it is an effort on their part to make listeners more aware of New Orleans music, and the bulk of the program material for the show comes from the HOTG Archives. So, you can hear some of the rare stuff I've previously posted on HOTG, plus some more general New Orleans musical selections. I didn't program the show, but have a friend (who wants to continue to live the anonymous life) in Bisbee who did.

Also tomorrow, April 7, from 11:00 to 11:30 AM (see above/below) on KBRP, you can hear (if you dare) an interview with me (now archived) about HOTG and New Orleans music in general. No real groundbreaking revelations in it (that I recall - it was a blur of verbalization over phone lines- I am sure I left out far more than I put in); but, if you want to hear me pontificate, here's your brief window of opportunity. I was "grilled" by at least three of the music gurus out at the station, who asked intelligent questions and actually made me think! It was after a full day of work and a big Mexican meal (luckily for all concerned, I drank no beer!), so, I just hope I was vaguely coherent. Judge for yourselves. Seriously, I am honored that the folks at KBRP wanted to talk to me; and I really appreciate their desire to help support New Orleans music, musicans, and culture. So, thanks to them for the airtime and the bandwidth!
*To confuse me even further, Arizona is not observing Daylight Saving Time this year. So, they are an extra hour ahead/behind (depending on if you're West or East, of course) US locations
that are in DST. Clear? I thought not.... Just go to to the time conversion link above.

April 02, 2007

Stretching It

Last week I posted (see below) a Johnny Adams side that Eddie Bo was behind. Then, the other day, I was checking Larry Grogan's fine blog, Funky 16 Corners, and found he had recently posted on another stealth Bo project: a single released around 1970 on the House Of The Fox label, credited to Curley Moore and the Kool Ones. Larry featured the B-side, "Funky, Yeah", which, with all due respect, is actually funky, no. Instead, it's a surpirisingly overdriven rock guitar rave-up, unlike anything else I can recall Bo being involved with.

So, once again Bo-brained, I was inspired to dust off and cue up the A-side of that record, which has long been one of my favorite freaky funk rarities.

"Shelley's Rubber Band" (Pope-Bocage)
Curley Moore and the Kool Ones, House of the Fox 1934, 1970

"Shelley's Rubber Band" is certainly not the most heavily or intricately syncopated funk exercise to issue forth from New Orleans studios of the period; but it doesn't matter. It's way Kool - a mentholated groover with a finger popping hipster vibe. The drummer plays it pretty straight, mainly just laying down a simple beat for the bass and wah-wahed lead guitar to snake around with that slinky hook of a central riff. But it's the processed other guitar, the first one you hear, that's really killer, awash with reverb and run through some envelope filter/phase shifter du jour, percolating out a line of muted-string choppping that proffers much of the percussive appeal of the piece. It sounds in the intro and breakdowns like the electrified tap dancing of some rudimentary robot, likely held together by rubber bands. Dig those trebly single chord slides and "Honky TonK"-on-acid turnarounds, too. Atop it all is Bo's organ vamping - icing this devil's food cupcake. Of course, we can't forget the shouted out introduction and calls to "stretch it" and "pull it" allong the way. I agree with Mr. Grogan that those vocalisms are likely from Curley Moore (plus a chorus of "yeah" sayers). True Bo heads will recall that Eddie himself has interjected comments onto instrumentals going back to Robert Parker's "All Night Long" (Ron 327) in 1959 - "Pass The Hatchet" by Roger and the Gypsies and his own "Hook And Sling" being prime examples. What Moore did was not a lead vocal, by any means, nor does he utter a peep on the other side of this single; but that didn't stop Eddie from giving him featured artist billing along with the Kool Ones, who were, we assume, everybody else on the session that day.

If you haven't already done so, read Larry's informative, entertaining post for other of his insights on this single. I'll just add that Eddie Bo's mysterious ways, such as writing and releasing records under pseudonyms (James K-Nine is a favorite of mine) or made-up band names, and using other silly devices (like spelling Alfred Scramuzza's name backwards on a Scram single) were probably just a source of amusement for him. On this 45, he credits Shelley Pope, a popular local DJ of the day, as producer and co-writer - neither of which were probably true - and names the song for him, too. I think Bo realized that getting a hit record is akin winning Lotto, or having a longhsot come in at the Fairgrounds Race Track. He just put 'em out there and hoped one would ring up some numbers, as was the case in 1969 with the funk classic, "Hook And Sling", his one substantial jackpot. The instrumentals may have been farily disposable to him. Being an accomplished musican with a jazz background, he could toss off groovy riffs for hip tracks all the livelong day. So, why not have some fun and make up names, or let his buddy, Curley, do the talking for a change and give him the credit, plus some for Mr. Pope, too, who might just play the damn record on the radio, if he had a little taste of the action. Couldn't hurt.

Speaking of Curley (a/k/a Curly) Moore, I think Bo had only worked with the singer once before, on a single for the short-lived Scram label (#120) the prior year. But, Moore had been around the music scene in New Orleans since at least the early 1960s, when, following Bobby Marchan, he was one of the lead vocalists in Huey Smith's recording and show band, the Clowns. Over the next decade and a half, he had singles out on Teem, Nola/Hot Line, Instant, Sansu, Scram, House of the Fox, and Roxbury. Of those, all were one-shots, except for Sansu, which released three 45s on him, under the direction of Allen Toussaint. There we some great records in there, too, such as "Soul Train" (Nola 707 & Hot Line 901), "Sophisticated Sissy" (Instant 3295), and "Don't Pity Me" (Sansu 473). But Curley could never capture the ear of the public and faded from view after his mid-1970s Roxbury 45.

To read more on Eddie Bo's many projects, consult the experts:
Larry Grogan's excellent
webzine archives and Martin's amazing Eddie Bo discography at soulgeneration.

Also, both sides of this single can be found on the Tuff City/Funky Delicacies CD, The Hook And Sling - although, "Shelley's Rubber Band" is mis-identified as "Eddie's Rubber Band" (different song, Mr. Fuchs).