November 30, 2004


"C'mon Second Line"
Jon Cleary, from Alligator Lips and Dirty Rice, Ace (UK), 1989
(tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

Born in Great Britain, Jon Cleary moved to New Orleans at age 17 in the early 1980’s and immediately began to soak up the local culture. His musical instrument of choice had been the guitar; but he seriously took up the piano after arriving in that city famous for its piano professors, inspired by the enveloping musical atmosphere of the Home of the Groove. He developed prodigious keyboard skills in a relatively short period of time, and, by the late 1980’s, was playing professionally. Around that time, I saw him solo as an opening act at Tipitina’s and was duly impressed.

By 1989, he had released his first LP/CD, Alligator Lips and Dirty Rice, which displays a combination of influences - barrelhouse blues and boogie woogie, New Orleans second line funk, and soulful rhythm and blues - on tasty cover tunes and worthy originals.

I’ve picked his decidedly New Orleans original, “C’mon Second Line” for this post, as its inspired playing aptly demonstrates what the second line groove is all about: a joyous celebration of life driven by a funked up parade beat that demands the butt to move until you let go of your cares and dance with abandon. You can hear the street-beat influences of brass bands and Mardi Gras Indians runnin’ and gunnin’ all over this track. Jon really radiates those 88’s, with George Porter, Jr. on bass and Bunchie Johnson on drums firing up the Mardi Gras party.

Over the years, I’ve seen Jon Cleary play many times. And I can safely say that he is the shit, absolutely monstrous. So, it’s no surprise that he calls his current band The Absolute Monster Gentlemen. He also has been
Bonnie Raitt’s keyboard player for the past few years, following a stint with Taj Mahal’s band in the mid-1990’s. The only place you can get Alligator Lips and Dirty Rice now is from the man himself at his fine website (see link above), which has some awesome concert performances for download along with promo clips. He has three other CDs out, Moonburn on Virgin, and two more recent ones on Basin Street. His music just gets more soulful and funkified as he grows. It’s highly recommended HOTG listening.

November 28, 2004

Got Chocolate Milk

Chocolate Milk, from Milky Way, RCA, 1979

Since I promised you some Chocolate Milk pre-hiatus, I guess I’d better deliver.

I wanted something upbeat today; and “Paradise” breezes on along with a swinging feel that hints at the group’s jazz band beginnings. What I really like most about their music are the horn charts; and this straightforward tune is a good example of the effective use of their brass section to punctuate and push a movin’ groove.

I came to collect Chocolate Milk, a New Orleans based funk ‘n soul outfit with several Top 20 R&B hits back in the day, only within the last five years. Until then, having only ever heard a few cuts, I dismissed their sound as “commercial” and too “disco” for my leanings. Then I got the Razor & Tie greatest hits package, Ice Cold Funk, and somewhat reconsidered, seeking out their first four LPs (Milky Way is the last of those), all produced by Allen Toussaint. And, though I am still not crazy about some of the material, I like the band, the tight arrangements, and the impressive playing enough to keep them in my HOTG archives. I prefer the stuff they did with Toussaint over their later work with Allan Jones of the Bar-Kays out of Memphis; but you might feel differently, so see what you can find and get you some Chocolate Milk.

Several of the CM members also did session work for Toussaint over the years, including bassist David Barard, sax man Amadee Castenell, keyboardist Robert Dabon, and percussionist Kenneth “Afro” Williams. Today, Barard plays in Dr. John’s road band, and Dabon in Mem Shannon’s. Castenell has recorded two solo CDs for Toussaint’s
NYNO label, and Williams released a CD on his own. Chocolate Milk re-formed a few years ago and played a great set at Jazzfest in New Orleans. But I haven’t heard anything about them since. New Orleans funk phenomenon, Galactic, has covered several of their tunes in recent years; and at least three CM albums have been reissued on CD.

UPDATE: A Band Member Checks In To Set Me Straight.......
(This great message arrived in the comments to this post.)

Your research on Chocolate Milk is pretty good. But, you did miss a few things. ALL of the members of Chocolate Milk did much session work. The Rythym section can be heard on recordings for, Lee Dorsey, Aaron Neville (second version of Tell It Like It iI, The Greatest Love, Hercules and more),The Mighty Diamonds (from Jamiaca),William Bell(from Memphis)Irma thomas, Allen Toussaint and so many more that I can't even remember. I should know, after all I am the drummer for Chocolate Milk. We were Allen Toussaint's studio band from the mid 70s to late 70s. Along with the Meters, we played on just about everything that toussaint produced. on many songs, it was half of the meters and half of chocolate milk for the rythym section. We backed all of Toussaint's live gigs. many people don't know that many of those funky songs by other artists recorded in toussaint's studio had the rythym section of chocolate milk. Back then,Toussaint didn't credit the names of the backing muscians. we recorded so much that I have forgotten most of the songs I have played on. Aaron Neville had to remind me that I played on the later version of "tell it like it is". In addition to playing drums, I have played many sessions on keyboards for other artists. no disrespect intended.I just wanted you to know that all of the band members are distinguished session players. Oh yeah I wrote on of the songs on my cousin Amadee's 2nd CD. - Dwight Richards

Thanks, Mr. Richards, for your information. I hope you don't mind if I move your comments to the main page, as I am honored to have a group member respond to one of my posts and want more people to see what you said. I would hope that, in the future, I can get more input from artists, engineers, producers, and songwriters on this blog's music features. My "research" sometimes comes off the top of my head, as was the case with the "Paradise" post, since I couldn't find much written about the band in the short time I gave myself. I certainly meant no disrespect either, leaving out mention of the talents and work of other band members. I just picked a few I was more familiar with. The whole reason I do this blog is that I am so impressed with the high quality of New Orleans musicians and their output in general. I can only scratch the surface of the awe-inspiring, deep connections that make up the musical fabric of the Home of the Groove. If you will send me your e-mail address, Dwight, I would like to consult with you on a future Chocolate Milk song post, or maybe some other cut you played on or wrote for another artisit, and let you do a guest commentary. That, sir, would be ultra-hip. Drop in anytime. Keep me real.

And, by the way, I forgot to say on the Jon Cleary post that your cousin, Amadee Castenell, is playing sax.

November 22, 2004


Hope these posts can last you for a while. I won't be blogging for the rest of the week. Next weekend sometime I'll give you that taste of Chocolate Milk I promised, and maybe a review of the new Bonerama CD and a report on their CD release party gig at Tipitina's in New Orleans. But there's definitely more music in the pipeline, so come on back. Until then, if this applies to your location, lifestyle, schedule, whatever, have a great holiday. And give some thanks for the blessings of music.

A steaming sack of. . .Jerkuleez

Part 3: Floatin' The Boat

"Gravy Boat"
Jerkuleez, from Jerkuleez, broke-dick records, 2002


And here’s the closer for our three-pack of instrumentals. It’s another Meters-inspired piece by Jerkuleez, a side-project band of Austin, TX musicians. One of them, guitarist Malcolm Welbourne, aka Papa Mali, was raised up (as we say in the Deep South) in Shreveport, LA and spent plenty of time hanging out in New Orleans over the years before relocating to Austin. He has one CD out as Papa Mali, the seriously funk infested and humidly atmospheric Thunder Chicken that came out of Fog City Records a few years ago. And I just heard from him that he is in New Orleans working on his next CD. As I am not an expert on the Austin music scene, I don’t know much about the other players on Jerkuleez: Bruce Hughes, bass; Jud Newcomb, guitar; Dave Robinson, drums; and Corey Mauser, keyboards. But, from the sound of this CD, they can channel the Home of the Groove vibe under the proper circumstances.

“Gravy Boat” lays down a tasty sheen of grease with some loosey-goosey drumming that allows the cohorts to take a syncopated ride on the slip ‘n slide. I like the way the tune is structured kind of like a round that keeps turning back on itself, wrapping you up in the groove. Well done, fellas.

I don’t think you can buy this CD anymore; but if you want to inquire, let me know. I’ll get you connected with Malcolm. I want to thank him for giving it to me back around ’02 to play on my show and for allowing me to share it with you now. I’ll favor you with some Papa Mali later, too, no doubt. Until then, enjoy your gravy.

November 21, 2004

GBB Posted by Hello

Part 2: A Greasy Funk Tidbit

"Tater Tot"
Gamble Brothers Band, unissued, 2003

Fresh out

One of the things that kept me interested in the contemporary Memphis music scene, before I headed south this year, were the few bands that had some New Orleans feel in their repertoire and chops, such as Freeworld and our featured group here, the Gamble Brothers Band. I got to know these guys though their sax player when the band was in its early stages of development. From the first time I heard them, I have been thoroughly impressed not only by their great musicianship and songwriting, but by their seemingly effortless blend of influences from Memphis and Muscle Shoals soul to Crescent City funk, with some rock, jazz and reggae/ska blended in for good measure. Only a great band can mix such diverse elements to create a sound that they alone own; and I think they do that. With two CDs out now, available through their label, Archer Records, and another on the way, this is a band that continues to evolve and throw down. Try to catch them live somewhere. Latch onto a CD or two. And tell 'em the former Spin Docta sent you.

So, the second offering in our instrumental trifecta, "Tater Tot", is something the GBB often does live that is pure Meters-inspired funk. Their twist is that this is a band with no guitar. The tune was cut for their Back To The Bottom CD, but did not make it onto the final table of contents due to an excess of good material. At the time of this recording, the band was Al Gamble on keyboards and, Chad Gamble on drums, Art Edmaiston on sax, and Will Lowrimore on bass (who left the group last year).

I want to thank Art and all of the GBB along with Ward Archer of Archer Records for letting me blog this. Although they hail from the Mid-South, the GBB are surely worthy to hold forth in the Home of the Groove. And, as a matter of fact, they'll be gigging at the Maple Leaf down in New Orleans on December 20th.

November 20, 2004

Part 1: A Second Line Mambo

"New Orleans Mambo"
James Rivers Quartet, The Dallas Sessions, Spindletop, 1985

Back in the early 1980's, I used to often see New Orleans multi-reed man, James Rivers, and his band play at Tyler's Beer Garden in the Uptown area. Tyler's had outstanding live music, with a lot of jazz, great raw oysters, and certainly some good beer. Also playing Tyler's regularly were Rivers' usual keyboard player, David Torkanowsky, and another fine pianist, Mike Pellera. They used to put two pianos up on stage and do these incredible "dueling pianos" inprov gigs, which I was also fortunate enough to catch several times. Mike Pellera wrote today's featured track; and David Torkanowsky plays piano on it and produced the album.

Although it was recorded in Dallas (thus its title), this entire record is thoroughly grounded in the Home of the Groove, featuring esteemed drummer Johnny Vidacovich, bassist James Singleton on some tracks, George French on vocal and bass on others, and, of course, Mr. Rivers on saxes, flute and bagpipes (!). The core rhythm section of Torkanowsky, Singleton, and Vidacovich went on to form NOLA's premier jazz group,
Astral Project, with guitarist Steve Masakowski and saxophonist Tony Dagradi. A selection of their prodigious work can be heard on that outstanding web site link. Rivers, who made instrumental singles in the '60's and early 70's and played on the road with some of the greats, has also worked on soundtracks for several Clint Eastwood movies and released a few CDs.

I was in the mood for "New Orleans Mambo" today with its upbeat groove carried along by Vidacovich's funky street parade rhythms (aka "second line") and fine soloing by Rivers and Torkanowsky. Hope you enjoy it.

By the way, this is the first of a three part instrumental series for the coming week. Stay tuned, as we get funkier still with two bands from outside New Orleans that have the flava.

November 19, 2004

Didn't forget I got Merry Clayton

"Forget It, I Got It"
Merry Clayton, from Gimme Shelter, Ode, 1970

Here's my other New Orleans lady who's done much in the music business, but is not often associated with her hometown
. Merry Clayton is probably best known for her duets with Mick Jagger on the Stones' "Gimme Shelter" and "Tumblin' Dice"; but she has had a long career, recording singles in the 1960's, doing tons of session work singing backup, making at least three albums in the 1970's and a couple thereafter. Read the bio/discography I've linked to for more details of her work. While I knew she was from New Orleans, I had never sought out any of her records; but I found her first album, Gimme Shelter, a few years ago and started listening to it along with her second one, Merry Clayton, that I borrowed from my girlfriend (now my wife). You won't find much readily identifiable New Orleans influence in her music; but she's a talented and powerful singer that the city should be proud to claim as its own.

Actually, DJ O-Dub over at
soul sides got me thinking about "Forget It, I Got It" about ten days ago, when he posted an instrumental with the same name (but not the same tune) done by Harold Ousley. And so, you now get the one Merry Clayton did, which is a straight ahead soul number revealing some of what she was up to on her first LP. I think this song was also the B-side of her "Country Road" (yes, the James Taylor tune) single taken from the album. The Gimme Shelter title cut doesn't hold up very well against the Stones' original in terms of the playing, but Clayton's strong perfomance puts some fire power into it nonetheless, making worth hearing. I'll post more from her first two records, and maybe something from the much later Emotion LP at some point.

While she may be best known for varoius backing vocal appearances on record, she truly shines when she's on her own, making a soulful statement even covering pop/rock tunes of the day. We should not forget about Merry Clayton, because she's got the Home of the Groove in her heart

November 18, 2004

Been Down with Margie

"I Been Down"
Margie Joseph, from Margie Joseph, Atlantic, 1973

Hear it on
HOTG Internet Radio

Born and raised on the Mississippi Gulf coast and discovered in New Orleans as a college student,Margie Joseph has had a recording career outside of the Home of the Groove, for the most part. As I have said before, compared to the male vocalists of the region, there weren't nearly as many women making records. The two I am featuring for the next few days are great singers from the Crescent City or thereabouts, who are not often associated with it. And while neither broke through with a massive hit, they deserve recognition and appreciation for what they did accomplish as entertainers and recording artists.

By the time Margie Joseph signed with Atlantic in 1972 and made Margie Joseph with producer, Arif Mardin, she had already recorded for Okeh, which released her first two 45s, and Volt, where she enjoyed several good-sized hit singles and had two albums, the first of which sold quite well.. Her compelling voice, possessing an impressive range, has often been compared to that of Aretha Franklin, who also worked with Mardin.

I've picked "I Been Down" as an example of the funky side of her material; but she had plenty of soulful depth, too. While Joseph's voice may not be quite as resonant or spine-tingling as Aretha's, it's a fine instrument and can stand by itself. This well-produced track with tastefully used strings had a host of top-flight New York session players.

Much of her later work suffered perhaps from too much arranging, smoothing out many of the interesting rough edges; but her albums have great moments. I'll try to give more examples somewhere down (or maybe that's up) the blog. Her two Stax albums have been re-issued on CD; and Ichiban/Soul Classics did a compilation CD of selected Atlantic sides [as of 2010, all of her Atlantic CDs have been re-issued on CD and much of her back catalog is downloadable]. Most of the vinyl is available and affordable. In short, her music is not hard to find and well worth having.

November 16, 2004

Dave and another Fats

"Hey-Hey" (Bartholomew)
Dave Bartholomew with Fats Matthews, Broadmoor 101, 1967
(Tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

Here's a 45 I ran across about 10 years ago that still isn't on any compilations I know of. It's a rarity on a label started by
Dave Bartholomew in 1967 that only put out a few releases besides this one: two by Fats Domino, three by soul singer Chrles Brimmer, and a couple more. Of course, Bartholomew was Domino's producer, band leader and songwriter/co-writer though the bulk of the Fatman's recording days. And by this time in his lengthy career, Bartholomew was living fairly well off the royalties from his voluminous songwriting catalogue. So, "Hey-Hey" b/w "Junk Man" and the short-lived label were more like dabbling for him than a serious re-entry into a music business much changed from his early days.

This side has an enjoyable groove and arrangement, though the horn section is somewhat out of tune. I suspect that laying down that groove is Smokey Johnson, as Bartholomew had used him consistently in the early 1960's. The other Fats (Matthews), who joins in on vocals, had worked with producer Bartholomew in the 1950's as a solo artist and a member of The Hawks, a local vocal group that recorded for Imperial. The song's introductory and repeated call and response yells are reminiscent of those on Jessie Hill's classic, "Ooh Poo Pah Doo", and were inspired by the same source, I am sure: New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian singing. The flip side of the single is also worth hearing and can be found at the
Soul Club site. [not to mention HOTG Internet Radio]

Dave Bartholomew is another one of those New Orleans legends who deserves a book length appreciation of his work as a musician, performer, band leader, talent scout, record producer and songwriter. At the age of 78 in 1998, he put out a pretty decent CD called New Orleans Big Beat. I saw him give an awesome performance with his big band at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival after that CD came out. Can't say enough good stuff about him. I'll be putting up some more obscurities by him later, I'm sure.

November 15, 2004

Henry Roeland Byrd aka Professor Longhair aka Fess. . . Posted by Hello

Fessin' up (audio update)

"Curly Haired Baby"
Professor Longhair, Federal, 1951

Over and out

Whether or not you believe the hype that Professor Longhair was the "Bach of Rock", as I believe Allen Toussaint called him, this unique piano player has had a profound influence on succeeding generations of musicians in and out of New Orleans. Fess' style of somewhat latin and Caribbean tinged barrelhouse full of quirky, intricate right and left hand work set him apart from other piano greats (called "professors" down there) of his day such as Archibald and Tuts Washington. His experience as a street dancer and drummer in his early days no doubt contributed to the strong rhythmic elements of his playing. To some, his singing is an acquired taste; but it is a perfectly rough and ready adjunct to his keyboard attack. Maybe he was no Bach, but he composed such memorable staples of New Orleans blues/rhythm and blues as "Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Go To The Mardi Gras)" and "Tipitina" and contributed the amazing riff to Earl King's song, "Big Chief", that has long been associated with Fess.

"Curly Haired Baby" is an unusual Professor Longhair track for several reasons. For one thing, after recording it, he seemingly never performed or recorded another version, unlike so many of his other songs. Because he had a rather limited repertoire; he did numerous renditions of many of his songs over his career. Why this song was not revisited is a mystery. Also out of the ordinary, the guitar and sax are the dominant instruments in the mix with the piano in more of a support mode. So, you don't get much of his two-handed prowess on this one. But Fess' singing is strong; and the lyrics are good. I've always enjoyed this little proto-rock 'n roller.

Nighthawk Records had this rare 78 rpm transfer on a Fess compilation called Mardi Gras In New Orleans that came out on CD around 1990. It is apparently no longer available. There is another CD with the same name that doesn't seem to have all the tracks of the previous CD, leaving out this track among others. That's why I am posting it now. There are several good compilations of Professor Longhair music available on CD, along with live recordings and his final, and best, album on Alligator, Crawfish Fiesta. Hear for yourself what this legend of New Orleans music had to offer. This one goes out to my own curly haired baby, Jeanne.

November 12, 2004

Just so you know.....

I'm off traveling for a few days. I'll leave the blog just as it is until I return. Try not to mess the place up too much. When I return, the older audio posts (see archives) will be disconnected; and I will be blogging some delicious obscurities by Professor Longhair and Dave Bartholomew from way back. In the near future, as well, I hope to have some more tracks by New Orleans women (these did their recording elsewhere), a taste of Chocolate Milk, and recent cuts from NOLA-funk-influenced groups (one from Memphis, one from Austin) I dig.

So, don't be strangers. Check this stuff and come on back up in here. And don't forget to contribute some comments, if the spirit (or aggravation) moves you. I've been known to actually respond.

November 11, 2004

Dr John Live In London

"Right Place, Wrong Time" (Rebennack)
Dr John, From Such A Night, Spindrift, 1984

OK. Here's one that's more...obvious, yet still hard to find. The original version of this song came out on the Atco LP In the Right Place in 1973, an album produced by Allen Toussaint with the Meters as backup band and other assorted players. It's a classic and has been out on CD for several years now. This concert rendering was recorded live on November 4, 1983, at the Albany Empire Theatre in London. At the time the LP came out in England, it was the only full concert recording of Dr John commercially available. A CD version was released in the early 1990's; but both are now history - to be found, if you're lucky, at some pre-owned music emporium. Since then, several "authorized" live concert recordings of the Good Doctor have been released, Trippin' Live and All By Hisself being the best.

For a less than authorized concert recording, Such A Night is mixed fairly well and has good sound quality. It would seem that it was recorded professionally. Yet, Dr John never really claimed it. Go figure. It's a great concert, as he really radiates those 88's, covering some classic blues and barrelhouse and doing three songs off of the In The Right Place album, including a killer version of "Such A Night" that I haven't heard him equal. The fact that it is 8 minutes long kept me from laying that one out for you.

So, instead, I chose his "hit", because it is a cookin' version of the tune and a favorite of mine. The groove is held down by a band of Englishmen (and women), who get the job done admirably throughout. If you are a Dr John fan and don't have this recording, go find you one.

As for
Dr John, a/k/a Mac Rebennack, and his continuing musical contributions, I trust anyone who is the least bit interested in him can find an abundance of product, old and new, on the market. On the latest, N'awlinz Dis Dat or D'udda, he gives his propers to his hometown roots. It is a tribute to him that so much of his recorded work over a 40+ year career is available. He has put out an autobiography, Under A Hoodoo Moon, too. Without question, this man has contributed mightily to the appreciation, enrichment and perpetuation of the musical heritage of the Home of the Groove. God bless his funky self. And happy birthday on the 21st, Dr John!

November 10, 2004

Listen up!

The Dirty Dozen audio has been up for two weeks. Just giving some of you new to the blog time to listen. But it will be gone within the next 24 hours. The Irma Thomas won't be up much longer either. After that, I'm going to try to stick to that 10 day rule. So, don't say I didn't warn you.

November 09, 2004

Feeling it

"Do Your Feeling" (King Tloyd, III - Traci Borges)
King Floyd, from Think About It, Atco, 1973

The oeuvre of King Floyd seems to have been woefully under-rated, if not ignored by those claiming to know and love soul and funk music. He gets some credit for his big hit of 1970, "Groove Me", and the later, more modestly popular "Baby Let Me Kiss You" and "Woman Don't Go Astray"; but much of his recorded work (including many self-penned titles) remains off the radar. There is a good CD collection of some of his 1970's stuff,
Choice Cuts, worth picking up; but otherwise you'll have to find his original albums and/or 45's to hear what else he had to offer.

I've picked "Do Your Feeling" for its insistent funkiness and ass-grabbing arrangement by fellow New Orleanian
Wardell Quezergue. Floyd could go smooth, too. But I think this track shows something about where his music sits in general. It was recorded, as were most of his post-1970works, at Malaco Studios in Jackson, MS, with Mr. Quezergue arranging and running the sessions (though Elijah Walker is credited as producer, he was more of a money-man), and mainly the more than able house musicians handling the groove-making. Boost your bass EQ and check that kick drum (by James Stroud) that pulls you in and does not let go until the fade. I think Floyd's music was rightfully made at Malaco, halfway between Memphis and New Orleans, as many of his songs intermingle the Memphis Stax feel and the Crescent City funk vibe.

After growing up in NOLA and doing a stint in the army, King Floyd hit LA in the late 1960's where he worked with other New Orleans expatriates, songwriting with Dr. John and Jessie Hill, and recorded an album, A Man In Love (re-released a few years later as Heart Of The Matter), produced and arranged by Harold Battiste. But it wasn't until Floyd hooked up with Quezergue and Walker to record "Groove Me" that he was able to come of age as a vocalist and composer, going on to record many engaging singles and several fine albums. He is still performing and recording. And although I do not care for his recent recorded work, I am glad to know he is still among us doing his feeling.

[Note, 2008: Kng Floyd passed away in 2006.]

November 08, 2004

I Sure 'Nuff Like It

"Keep On Doing It To Me" (Allen Toussaint)
Lee Dorsey, Night People, ABC, 1978

Lee Dorsey is very close to my favorite New Orleans singer. I loved his stuff on the radio when I was a kid, before I ever knew where he was from. Although his voice wasn't really dynamic, nor endowed with much range, it was playful, genuine and expressive within its limits, always conveying a sense of....well, happiness. And what better feeling to go with some of Allen Toussaint's best pop compositions and arrangements? Toussaint has said that Lee Dorsey was his favorite vocalist to write for; and it shows in the many records they made together from the early 1960's until this final Dorsey LP, Night People.

"Keep On Doing It To Me" is a classic Toussaint song and arrangement of the period offering a funky strut beat with hot percussion, an outstanding, intricate horn chart with those joyful ascending/descending horn lines, and great in-the-groove playing throughout. Dorsey's delivery of the simple lyrics makes the feel-good point of the song self-evident. With every track written by Toussaint, the whole record is worth hearing and owning.

Fortunately, there are lots of Lee Dorsey re-issues on CD, from his early 1960's work on Fury, through his Amy years, plus the classic 1970s albums, Yes We Can and Night People. You can find the latter on vinyl fairly easily (and cheaply) at on-line sites, vinyl stores, flea markets and the like. I remember seeing this record by the score in the cut-out bins back in the day. Looks like ABC just dumped it, sad to say.

Throughout the ups and downs of his music career, Lee Dorsey was level-headed enough to keep his day job as an auto body repairman, which it seems he truly loved to do. Earlier in his life, he did some boxing as Kid Chocolate, too. In the real world and the music business, he was the real deal. I wish his later records were as popular as his earlier ones. To my mind, Night People, should have been a contender.

November 05, 2004

Nothing weak about this one

"Too Weak To Break The Chains" (Huey Smith)
Skip Easterling, Instant 3311, 1971

(tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

This is the third and final offering (for now) from my Joe Banashak stable of labels stash. With Skip Easterling, we move out of the '60's to 1971. He had started recording for Alon under the direction of Allen Toussaint in the early '60's, when Banashak first took him on. After a handful of singles with Toussaint that didn't get much notice, Easterling was assigned to Eddie Bo, who produced several good sides on him, including "The Grass Looks Greener" and "Keep The Fire Burning" (Alon 9033) around 1966/67. Then, in 1970, Huey Smith started producing him on Instant, where Easterling recorded a memorable funk version of "I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man" b/w "Ooh Poo Pah Doo" (#3309) that was popular regionally.

"Too Weak To Break The Chains", written by Smith. came out soon thereafter, right as Banashak was starting to close down the operation. It and the flip, "I'm Your Man" were great, funky sides. Smith's arrangement on our feature has nice horns and an over-driven, reversed guitar lead that takes some getting used to, maybe, but sets the piece off. There were three more Instant singles for Skip, that understandably did not have a chance to get over due to the demise of the label.

Easterling was one of the few white artists who recorded for Banashak's labels. He had a good, soulful voice and convincing delivery. But, as with so many of his fellow artists, nothing much happened commercially with his output. I originally encountered this song on the Charly LP compilation of Easterling's Alon and Instant material, Taking Inventory, long out of print. Skip really deserves a remastered CD compilation devoted to him.

November 04, 2004

Barbara George Posted by Hello

November 03, 2004

The Satisfying Barbara George

"Satisfied With Your Love"
Barbara George, SevenB, 1968

Audio adios

After Allen Toussaint departed around 1966, Joe Banashak (see previous post) brought in another multi-talent, Eddie Bo, to develop artists, compose, arrange, produce, mostly for the Seven B label. That's where our featured release came out in 1968 with a re-make of the Chris Kenner classic, "Something You Got" on the other side. The single quickly slipped into obscurity.

Barbara George, of course, is best known as a one hit wonder for her classic, "I Know", released on the AFO label in 1961 and picked up by Sue Records, becoming a number three single. George subsequently signed on with Sue; but did not have repeat success with other singles there. Several of those Sue sides have been compiled on a CD box set retrospective of the label; and her AFO work has appeared on a Collectables CD. Jessie Hill, legendary New Orleans one-hitter in his own right, brought Barbara George to the attention of Harold Battiste at AFO ; and "I Know" was recorded in a split session with the ill-fated, under-appreciated Prince La La (Lawrence Nelson), who was a Hill protege. After her deal with Sue played out, she doesn't seem to have done much recording until working with Eddie Bo on our featured side. She turned up again in the early 1980's, recording a few sides for the Hep' Me label in New Orleans.

Unfortunately, New Orleans recording history does not have an abundance of female artists. On my old radio show, I always tried to find good sounding representations of the women who recorded in New Orleans over the years. That's why I liked to play "Satisfied With Your Love". This rarity is a simply arranged shuffle with a decent horn riff and honestly displays the singer's charming vocal quality. And that's why I'm giving you a chance to listen, too.

Pause cause

Numerous tedious technical difficulties have kept me from uploading audio to the blog until this evening. I should have another tune posted soon. I also spent last night drinking porter and jamming until late. And I was NOT celebrating. It helped...a little.

November 01, 2004

Ernest Kador, Jr. Posted by Hello

Back to the '60's

"Sufferin' So" (Joe Tex)
Ernie K-Doe, Instant, 1963

(tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

We shift our focus for the next few posts to the 1960's. I want to give a listen to a few hard to find sides from the family of New Orleans labels owned and run thoughout the decade by Joe Banashak: Minit, Instant, ALON, Seven B, Bandy, and several others. Because he was either wise enough or lucky enough to have A & R, production, and songwriting duties handled by Allen Toussaint, Eddie Bo, Sax Kari and Huey Smith over the years, many great records were issued on those labels; and quite a few have been reissued on various CD compilations. On the unlucky side, except for some of Toussaint's early '60's productions that hit it big, his other releases never had a national sales or chart impact, though they were popular locally or regionally.

I first heard this
Ernie K-Doe track on an undocumented Bandy compilation LP I picked up back in the 1980's, which has some hard to find tunes on it. The song originally appeared in 1963 on this Instant single with the flip side, "Baby Since I Met You" (check it out), which I aquired later. I can only assume it is a Toussaint production with its easy going, typical New Orleans popeye groove of the period. Written by Joe Tex, who did some of his earliest recording in New Orleans, the lyrics speak a sad wisdom but still have that novelty tune way of spelling out some of the words. The main vocal is classic K-Doe; and I think that is Benny Spellman singing the bass lines, as he did on Ernie's earlier, Toussaint-penned big hit, "Mother In Law".

What can be said of the late (and missed) Ernie K-Doe, self-described Emperor of the Universe, that he hasn't proclaimed for himself? He was a very flamboyant, happily deranged entertainer who stood out in a city that has no shortage of the outrageous and colorfully wacko. Of course, he is known to the outside mostly for his one chart-topper; but he put out many good records over the years worth hearing. You won't find "Sufferin' So" just anywhere, though. Enjoy it here, while you can.