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.


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