December 29, 2004

Posted by Hello

This is a new feature that I hope to post at least once a month, focusing on good grooves from the area where I’m living now, south of I-10, west of New Orleans, across the Atchafalaya Basin. “Swamp” is a modifier that has become attached to several genres of music from this area, for better or worse, starting with British journalists using the term, “Swamp Pop”, in the 1970’s. In general, Swamp Pop is the largely New Orleans r&b influenced, non-traditional popular music of Southwest Louisiana that arose in the mid to late 1950’s and still exists in the region. Subsequently, the term “Swamp Blues” has also been used to identify the blues based music of the region, even if it’s from the east, like Baton Rouge!

At HOTG, a Swamp Side is not necessarily Swamp Pop or Swamp Blues. It’s just something from around here that I want you to hear. Now that we’ve made that about as clear as swamp water. . .

Lil Buck Posted by Hello

Passin' the Buck

"Cat Scream" (G. Sam)
Lil' Buck, La Louisianne, 1969

Buck stopped

Our first Swamp Side features Paul “Lil’ Buck” Sinegal doing the guitar picking, probably with his band, the Top Cats, churning and burning some funk that pushes those meter needles up into the red from the get go. Released on La Louisianne, based in his hometown of Lafayette, LA, the “Cat Scream” single is ultra-rare in its original form, and one of the few records featuring Sinegal as front man. He’s appeared on many recordings as a session musician or group member over the years, and remains a revered guitarist in the Lafayette area to this day, focusing on the blues. I’m planning to go hear him play tomorrow night at the Blue Moon Saloon. Read the bio I have linked for more about his lengthy career.

The flip side of this single, “Monkey In A Sack”, is just slightly less scorching. Both songs can be found on the great, but now deleted, Kent (UK) CD, Lafayette Soul Show, a compilation of mostly La Louisianne r&b and blues sides by various artists – worth finding. And Funk45 has re-issued them on a 45. “Cat Scream” also appears on another UK CD collection, SuperFunk3. Allen Toussaint’s NYNO label released Lil’ Buck’s The Buck Starts Here CD, which has just a little funk mixed with the blues, in 1998. And more recently, local label Lucky Cat Records put out his latest CD, Bad Situation.

December 26, 2004

She gives good gumbo

"Creole Gal" (P. Gayten)
Paul Gayten, DeLuxe, 1949

“Creole Gal” is similar in style to many jump blues numbers that were popping out of New Orleans and elsewhere around this time. But performer/pianist, songwriter, producer, and bandleader Paul Gayten spices it up with references to certain feminine and culinary amenities of his hometown. Making perhaps his first recording date with Gayten’s swinging outfit, a young and, later, legendary Lee Allen blows a jazzy tenor sax solo on the tune. My copy comes from the Creole Gal LP on Route 66, a compilation of his DeLuxe sides.

This is just one of many great Paul Gayten recordings of the period. So, I’ll be dropping a few more on you later. As one of the first postwar r&b bandleaders and recording artists in New Orleans, he influenced and inspired many of the upcoming young performers around town with his musicianship and professionalism. A number of his early sides for DeLuxe and Regal featured the sublime Annie Laurie as lead or co-vocalist, including their biggest hit, a cover of “Since I Fell For You”. After a successful stint with Regal as a producer and artist, Gayten and band had a long-running stand at the Brass Rail on Bourbon Street. In the early 1950’s, he recorded for the Okeh label, before signing on with Chess to develop local talent for the label, in addition to his own recording. He produced artists such as Clarence “Frogman” Henry, Eddie Bo, and Bobby Charles for them during the mid to late 1950’s. After that, Gayten relocated to the West Coast to run Chess operations there through the late 1960’s. Subsequently, he started the Pzazz label, which lasted just a few years.

Paul Gayten is yet another example of the multi-talented individuals who developed in and around the Home of the Groove and contributed to its long-lasting musical impact. About the only in print CD with much of his output seems to be the Getting’ Funky collection, featuring some of his sides for Regal Records. Also, try to find the out of print, more complete, Regal Records In New Orleans or its interesting live companion volume, which were both on Specialty, or Chess King of New Orleans, featuring many of his sides for Chess subsidiaries.

December 22, 2004

French Quarter, New Orleans, 2004, photo by yours truly Posted by Hello

Peace Y'all, indeed. Let's make it so, soon. I want to thank everybody who has contributed something to this blog: inspiration, comments, encouragement, or just stopping by. Special love and thanks to my wife, Jeanne, for her support and understanding of my hours hunkered down at the keyboard. I really didn't know what I was getting into a few months ago; but I'm glad I took the plunge and shared a little of what I've accumulated over the years through my love, respect and enthusiasm for the enduring musical wellspring that is the Home of the Groove.
Stay tuned. And...loose booty!

Short term Christmas lagniappe

"Rock 'N' Roll Santa Claus" (Johnson)
Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns from 'twas the night before Christmas, Ace, 1962

Gone back up the chimney

"Glad Tidings" (V. Morrison)
Merry Clayton, from Gimme Shelter, Ode, 1970

'til next year

That’s right, a little something extra to give you that HOTG Xmas spirit.

Our first treat comes from Huey “Piano” Smith and the Clowns, dispensers of year ‘round good cheer with their many great novelty tunes from the mid-1950’s to the early 1960’s. Featuring Curley Moore on lead vocal, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Santa Claus” is one of my favorite quirky, funny New Orleans Xmas songs. It was a part of the very short-lived, some say infamous, album, ‘twas the night before Christmas. Rumor had it that it was pulled soon after release because some found the r&b treatment of Christmas songs (including “Silent Night”) sacrilegious in 1962. But Jeff Hannusch suggests in the CD notes that the album tanked because of a bad distribution deal. Anyway, it’s short shelf life made it legendary and highly collectable. WestSide reissued it on CD in 1998; but that seems to be out of print now, too. I also recall that Dr. John credited Curley Moore as one of his vocal influences. I heard that. I think Earl King actually wrote this one.

For seconds, Merry Clayton’s take on the Van Morrison song, “Glad Tidings”, is another tune off of her Gimme Shelter album, recorded in Los Angeles. I featured a cut from this LP back in November. With Merry letting loose, this spirited number closed the album in fine style, and also aptly expresses my good wishes to each an every one of you this holiday season.

Hope you enjoy these. I’ll be taking them down right after Christmas and getting back to my growing list of planned posts. Carnival season is almost upon us. So, we’ll have to go there some in the early new year. Finally, for some well-written, well-played, modern New Orleans and Louisiana funk ‘n soul Xmas music featuring some of the area’s finest performers, I suggest you try the new Christmas Gumbo CD. I just got it Monday and am impressed.

December 19, 2004

One Another. . .

"Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further" (A. Toussaint)
Lee Dorsey, from Yes We Can...And Then Some, Polydor CD, 1993

Thought I’d slip this in before the Christmas rush. An LP track on Lee Dorsey’s 1970 Yes We Can album, “Who’s Gonna Help Brother Get Further” was written, produced and arranged by Allen Toussaint and features the the Meters as backing band, who played on many Toussaint production projects in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. They were in the midst of their heyday of hit singles at the time this album was recorded and released; but Toussaint pretty much gave them strict arrangements to play on sessions for others. It’s my guess that the conga player is Cyril Neville, who wasn’t an official Meter yet, or maybe Uganda Roberts. And the sax player is probably Gary Brown. If you have better information, please let me know. Also, that's Toussaint singing backing vocal, as he often did on artists he worked with.

I’m featuring this in honor of the conjunction of December birthdays associated with it: Lee Dorsey (12/24/1924); Art Neville (12/17/1935); George Porter, Jr. (12/26/1947) and Joseph “Zigaboo” Modeliste (12/28/1948). Of course, those last three were keyboardist, bassist and drummer of the original Meters respectively, with guitarist Leo Nocentelli being the birthday odd man out. You can learn a little more about this seminal New Orleans funk outfit at that link I gave you, if you need it. And, if you read any of the Idris Muhammad interviews, then you know that he and Art Neville started out in the Hawketts together as teenagers. I’ve featured Lee Dorsey previously from a later project of his, Night People. So, you can refer back to that, too.

This CD is out of print, sad to say. It was a great one, too, having the entire Yes We Can album plus several of Dorsey’s Polydor single sides of the era and several unreleased songs. Find it used somewhere and scarf it up. [Note, 2008: Yes We Can has since been re-issued again on CD combined with Dorsey's Night People album.] I am sure I will post more from this collection later. But, for now, let this tune demonstrate the righteous way Toussaint, Dorsey and the Meters interacted. It's a movin’ groover, prime HOTG material. So enjoy.

[Of course, post-Katrina Elvis Costello and Toussaint collaborated on River In Reverse, which contained new versions of a number of Toussaint-penned gems, including this one.]

December 17, 2004

Drumming from the bottom up

"Hard To Face The Music" (V. Simpson - N. Ashford)

Idris Muhammad, from House Of The Rising Sun, Kudu/CTI, 1976

It's not an overstatement: New Orleans drummers have profoundly influenced the world's groove. They are an elite breed of musical samurai…. Jonathan Tabak, Offbeat

New Orleans wouldn’t be the Home of the Groove if it weren’t way deep in drummers, past and present: Paul Barbarin, Zutty Singleton, Baby Dodds, Earl Palmer, Ed Blackwell, James Black, John Boudreaux, Smokey Johnson, Zig Modeliste, Herman Ernest. . . (somebody stop me!). You get the picture. But don’t let me leave out our featured skins man, Idris Muhammad, who started out life as Leo Morris in the 13th Ward, Uptown New Orleans, nearby to the Neville family, and engulfed by music. Starting with the neighborhood music outsiders call traditional jazz, he soon was in demand for R&B sessions, road work with the stars, stints at the Apollo and on Broadway, before being called to the contemporary jazz scene in the late 1960’s.

But, I’m going to let him tell the stories by linking you to a great interview at the end of this piece. He’s a fascinating cat, who’s attitude, chops and career sum up so well the roots of Crescent City funk that have spread into so many aspects of popular music and jazz here and around the planet.

I definitely need to get the import CD reissue of House Of The Rising Sun, becuse my LP is wearing out; and the CD has two bonus cuts. I’m not into everything on the record; but it has killer playing throughout. “Hard To Face The Music” sports a syncopated shuffle (love those tom-tom fills) that recalls the street parade second lines of Idris Muhammad’s hometown. Lending support to his statement in both interviews that he plays from the bottom up, it’s his kick that locks the groove and funks it up tight with the seemingly effortless skill and instinct of a master drummer. There’s hip horn work by George Young on sax and Fred Wesly on ‘bone. Joe Beck’s on guitar, and either Don Grolnick or Leon Pendarvis on keyboard. And, in a rare outing, Eric Gale pumps some tasty bass. Here’s a review of the LP version to give you more details on this Creed Taylor production.

Idris Interview:
all about jazz

December 16, 2004

A Bonerama Experience

Live From New York, Bonerama, 2004

Note: to hear audio clips, please go to

The Friday before Thanksgiving, we took I-10 across the Basin, that great swath of swampland, lakes, bayous and waterways, that lies just to the east of Lafayette, and went down to New Orleans for the big Bonerama CD release party at Tipitina’s. They were throwing down in celebration of their new one, Live From New York, a worthy follow-up to their 2001 debut, Live At The Old Point.

Both their CDs recorded live? Obviously, they thrive on that musician/audience synergy and don’t want to be damped down by the remote confines of a recording studio. Having seen them play numerous times over that past few years, I can attest to the impact and prowess of this aggregation that probably could have sprung up nowhere else but in The Home of the Groove. In the basic unit, you’ve got four trombonists, one playing at times through wah-wah and a cranked guitar amp, a sousaphonist, guitarist, and trap drummer, all wailing on ballsy, brassy, funk-infused originals, some fine tunes by other NOLA composers, plus unbelievable covers of classic rock (!) songs by Hendrix, the Allman Brothers, et al. Such experimentation could have been a disaster; but, inspired by generations of musical cross-breeding on New Orleans’ streets and stages, these masterful, inventive players have birthed and raised-up a gloriously conglomerated harmonic groove-monster.

When Bonerama unleash their New Orleans Brass Funk Rock, they blow you down, turn you around, then suck you into a wild, irresistible carnival ride. The tunes are joyous (even funny) and mind-bending. My favorite song of our night and on the new CD (so far) remains co-founder Craig Klein’s “Shake Your Rugalator”, struttin’ its classic second line roots.

Recorded at the Tribeca Rock Club in Manhattan, Live From New York is a great representation of the band’s show and has some cool special guests, legendary ‘bone man Fred Wesly (James Brown, JB Horns) and Galactic drummer Stanton Moore. The party at Tip’s had even more. Fred and Stanton couldn’t make it; so, instead, trombonists Rick Trolsen (a former member), Big Sam Williams, and Andy Pizzo joined the horn line. Not only that, singer/guitarist Anders Osborne sat in most of the night, along with master sousaphonist Kirk Joseph, and the patron saint of funk bass, George Porter, Jr. In all that’s seven trombones, two sousaphones, bass, drums, and two guitars. Am I forgetting anybody? Oh yeah, drummer David Russell Batiste (who played on the first CD) of the Funky Meters sat in on a song, too. We reluctantly left the club near 2:00 AM with them still holding forth and the crowd hanging on for more. I had that righteous new CD in my hand; and I keep it spinning regularly. It’s the next best thing to being at one of their impressive gigs; and you don’t have to burn your clothes afterwards.

In addition to the audio clips, find out more about the band, get on the mailing list, and pick up a CD at their website or at the
Louisiana Music Factory. To sense the unique and powerful mojo of contemporary New Orleans music at its shape-shifting finest, a Bonerama encounter, live or virtual, is in order. Catch ‘em, if you can. You probably won’t ever be the same. Hell, I didn’t even realize I had a rugalator, until I shook mine that night. Thanks to everybody for all the fun.

December 14, 2004

After All The Good Is Gone, Johnny Adams Posted by Hello

A b-side from an HOTG a-list performer

"Chasing Rainbows" (T. Royal)
Johnny Adams, from After All The Good Is Gone, Ariola, 1978

Good and gone

Alright, I promised you some Johnny Adams a while back when mentioning him as one of the greatest New Orleans vocalists. Really in a league of his own, he could sing anything and make it worth hearing; but, when he gave good material his all, his voice was a profoundly moving instrument. And, I know it’s a cliché; but this man was a class act, who could turn a gig at some dive into a command performance. I saw him do it. Please read Jeff Hannusch’s excellent, informative career retrospective for Offbeat. After a 40 year career, Adams died in 1998, performing and recording with grace and style up to the end.

“Chasing Rainbows” was the flip side of Johnny Adams’ 1978 Ariola single, “After All The Good Is Gone”, and appeared on the same-named album, which is where I got the track you hear. The song, an odd paring to a Conway Twitty cover, was written by then New Orleans-based guitarist and songwriter Teddy Royal, who you may recall co-wrote our Willie Harper feature, “Look At The Clock” and worked with King Floyd. Arranged by Wardell Quezergue, who should be familiar to you regular readers by now, “Chasing Rainbows” is truly a funked-up piece of work throughout. On top of that undulating instrumental bed, Adams does his sweet soul shouting, which still only hints a his amazing vocal range.

We are blessed to have so much of his recorded output currently available on CD, as a brief visit to Amazon will show you. I encourage you to explore it. To get some additional tastes of his singing, try the Soul Club Jukebox or another site I found, which seems to have his Rounder “best of” CD tracks available to hear. It was Rounder, though their series of superbly produced Johnny Adams CDs from the ‘80’s through the ‘90’s, that finally brought him to the attention of so many modern blues, soul and jazz fans. Scott Billington and the label deserve their props for that. So, buy something from ‘em already.

My one chance to meet Johnny Adams came after a sparsely attended gig at the Rock ‘n Bowl in New Orleans a year or so before he died. We took some friends who had never heard him; and they were duly impressed. After staying to the end, we walked downstairs to find Johnny himself standing at the curb waiting for his ride. Introductions were made. I told him that I played his stuff on my radio show in Memphis. We all profusely thanked him for a great night of music. Very graciously, he thanked us for coming, and, as his car pulled up, he invited us to a gig the next weekend that he was doing in Baton Rouge, I think, where he was living. As I recall, he said it was at a high school. I thought, “What is a giant like Johnny Adams doing playing at some high school (or a bowling alley)?” A gig, my friends, is a gig. We couldn’t make it. And I never got to hear him live again; but I’ll always remember that night and every other time I saw him perform. Like I said, it didn’t matter where he was, his vocal gifts transformed the room and elevated all of us.

December 12, 2004

Tami's Mojo

"Mojo Hanna", Tami Lynn,
from Love Is Here And Now You're Gone, Cotillion, 1972

(hear it on HOTG Internet Radio)

“Mojo Hanna” has an interesting history, having been recorded along the way by, among others, Marvin Gaye, “Little” Esther Phillips (no relation to your humble correspondent), Larry Williams (as “Louisiana Hannah”), Betty Harris, Aaron Neville, the Neville Brothers, and twice by our featured artist. Andre Williams and Clarence Paul wrote it in Detroit around 1962 while working for Motown in the early days. That’s where Marvin Gaye got ahold of it. So, while the song is full of Louisiana hoodoo references, it’s not originally a product of the State of Utter Humidity.

In the early 1960’s, Tami Lynn (aka Tammy, Tammi, or Tamiya Lynn) cut “Mojo Hanna” with the AFO Executives, the group of fine jazz players and r&b session musicians, headed by Harold Battiste, who started AFO (All For One) Records in New Orleans around that time. It’s a break-neck version that doesn’t give the song much room to breathe. So, I am featuring her later Cotillion reprise produced by Jerry Wexler and Brad Shapio and recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami in 1971. Released as a single that year, it’s much more satisfying and funkified. From the recording date, I would hazard a guess that the session players may have been the Dixie Flyers, a group of Memphis-area musicians that Wexler had imported to Miami to accompany numerous artists. Thus, Tami Lynn may be this record’s only connection to the Home of the Groove beyond subject matter. I got the version you hear from her 1972 Cotillion LP, Love Is Here And New You're Gone, which is kind of a mess of an album, compiling tunes done with three different production teams at three studios over several years. Nonetheless, there are some worthy tracks on it besides “Mojo Hanna”.

Tami Lynn’s good early sides, recorded by Harold Battiste for AFO, can be heard on the fine Ace (UK) three CD Gumbo Stew series. On the
Soul Club Jukebox, you can hear two of her later single sides (including “I’m Gonna Run Away From You”, a hit in England) that were also on the Cotillion LP. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she sang backup on some of King Floyd's first sessions in L.A. and the Stones’ Exile on Main Street. She also released a so-so solo CD, Tamiya Lynn, in the 1990’s. Tami’s feisty second “Mojo Hanna” has always made me wish she had done more like it; but, alas, it was a groove not followed.

December 10, 2004

Re-discovering a gem

"Worried Over You" (Eldridge Holmes)
Eldridge Holmes, Jet Set, 1965

Don't worry, be funky

Recorded in New Orleans in 1965, but released on the short-lived Jet Set label out of Washington, DC, “Worried Over You” is a fine little soul single, but doesn’t sound like a New Orleans record, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Eldridge Holmes’ vocal on this track reveals why some, including Allen Toussaint, consider him one of the city’s best 60’s soul singers. I think only the great and much better known Aaron Neville (a class unto himself) and Johnny Adams (audio coming soon) beat him out. Listen for yourself.

I am dispensing with background notes on this jewel of a vocalist and refer you to Larry Grogan’s outstanding overview and appreciation of Eldridge Holmes’ career that can be found at Funky16Corners. It is definitely worth a read.

You can hear three other Holmes cuts at Soul Club; and, if you want to find some of his work on CD, you’re in luck. Sundazed’s quality re-issue comp of Toussaint productions, Get Low Down! The Soul of New Orleans ’65 – ’67, has four Sansu sides; and there is a great later, previously unissued track on Gravevine’s Crescent City Funk and more…. While it’s a pity that the late Eldridge Holmes was not much appreciated in his day, I am glad to know that at least some of his best work is being heard again.

December 08, 2004

Time for Willie Harper (Revised 6/23/2007)

"Look At The Clock" (W. Harper - T. Royal)
Willie Harper, un-issued, 1970-71

Since my original post about this song, I have learned more about events surrounding its writing and recording, but still do not know much about the artist himself. I discovered Mr. Harper back in the 1980s on a cut from the 1969 Instant LP,
Solid Gold, a retrospective put together by Joe Banashak of songs that had appeared on Instant and several other labels he operated during the decade. In Harper's case, the cut was "New Kind Of Love", an infectious little Allen Toussaint production, written by Earl King, that was a good regional seller for the Alon label. But, my introduction to "Look At The Clock" came later, when I found it and a few other Harper tracks on a Japanese LP compilation, Battle Of Soul, featuring several artists who recorded for Tous-Sea Productions (later called Sansu Enterprises) and its related labels, owned by Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn.

Because that LP got the recording date wrong for this track, I went around for years assuming that producer/arranger Wardell Quezergue's work here with writers Harper and Teddy Royal, pre-dated the King Floyd sound that the Big Q helped develop. But, after my extensive talks with Royal that resulted in a two-part feature on him*, I learned that the tracks were actually done in the early to mid 1970s, instead of 1967. It's easy to understand why it was thought that these sessions had been earlier, since Harper did have one release for the Tou-Sea label that came out about 1968, plus two earlier 45s on Sansu from about 1966, and most of the material on the compilation was from that period.

I thought it odd that Toussaint had handed over these sessions to Quezergue; but, it makes more sense for 1973-1974, when Toussaint's attention turned from working on singles to album production for himself, the Meters, and national acts. In Quezergue’s hands, “Look At The Clock” has the clean, simple, funky sound that he made famous on hit records by King Floyd and Jean Knight at the time. Teddy Royal worked closely with Quezergue on the sessions, having written the music for the song and developed its basic structure and groove himself, and continued to do so throughout the 1970s on sessions for various atrists, often coming up with fine original music, as well as playing on them

"Look At the Clock", then, is a good example of New York-born Royal's contributions to the New Orleans music scene, which began soon after he arrived in the city in 1970. Harper lived nearby; and Teddy would go over to his house in his free time and write with the singer, hoping to develop another hit for him, which never came, sad to say. For whatever reasons, those songs never saw the light of day.

During the previous decade, Willie Harper had worked often with Toussiant, singing backup on Ernie K-Doe’s “Mother In Law”, Benny Spellman’s “Lipstick Traces”, and many other of Toussaint's productions. He was also one of the lead vocalists in The Del Royals, a studio-only vocal group (duo?) Toussaint recorded for Minit in the early 1960’s. After Toussaint moved over to ALON in 1961, he released five singles on Harper and continued to record the singer when he and Marshall Sehforn started the Sansu family of labels mid-decade. 

But, other than that local hit, “A New Kind Of Love”, none of Harper's recordings ever caught fire; and he was eclipsed by other artists of the time such as Lee Dorsey. The sessions we speak of here probably were his last as a solo artist. The only other later session listing I've found on him was as a backing vocalist on the Wild Tchoupitoulas project in the mid-1970’s. 

As for Teddy Royal, to learn more about his extremely active career in music that was based in New Orleans for many years, please read my features on him, linked below.
* The Teddy Royal Story - Part 1

The Teddy Royal Story (continued) - Part 2

December 07, 2004

Dropping the flash player

My stats tell me that the majority of you download the mp3 file to access my audio. Yesterday, while having trouble getting the flash player to load on the last audio post (it never would), I decided that it was a sign that I should just lose the flash audio and offer only the mp3 link, like all the other audiobloggers I've run across. So, starting with "Hold On Help Is On The Way", this is how it will be: the mp3 file is at the "LISTEN" link. The older audio will still have the choices for the rest of their run. If you just loved that flash player, I offer my regrets; but I don't think anybody much used it after I finally figured out how to post mp3. What can I say, I was way late to the technology party, people. I'm not really sure how I got this far. Bear with me.

December 06, 2004

Alvin "Red" Tyler Posted by Hello

A hip duet

"Hold On Help Is On the Way" (Davis-Tyler-Parker)
G. Davis & R. Tyler, Parlo, 1966-67

Can't help it.

This great tune has been on my mind for weeks. It’s not that obscure, having been popular with the Northern Soul crowd for years, and is available on at least one of those CD comps from the UK and also on several US CD collections of Aaron Neville’s mid-1960’s Parlo sides. He had nothing to do with the song; but since he was Parlo’s only artist, other than its owners, the compilers saw fit to throw it on, I guess. So, you might have this or have heard it, already. But maybe you didn’t know much about it. If this is your first taste, enjoy.

Parlo Records was started by George Davis and Alvin “Red” Tyler along with Warren Parker around 1966. Both Davis and Tyler were New Orleans musicians of some note (see links above) on guitar and sax respectively. They signed gifted vocalist Aaron Neville to the new label and had him record “Tell It Like It Is”, written by producer Davis and Lee Diamond (see my Upsetters post for more on him), which was released as their first single (Parlo 101) in late 1966. The song was a big hit; but, as in many record business stories, neither the Parlo owners, nor Aaron Neville, saw any significant money from it. This bad dealing caused the label to fold soon thereafter, leaving the few remaining sides (hear one by Aaron), including our feature tune, to sink into nearly utter oblivion, of interest only to collectors and/or British soul dance fanatics, until the rise of CD reissues and mp3 files.

“Hold On Help Is On The Way” (Parlo 102 - I have no idea what inspired the title), features George Davis and “Red” Tyler duetting on the body of the instrumental, but with Davis doing the exciting solo work. He had a hip, jazzy, appealing guitar sound which got him session work from the mid-1950’s (“Mardi Gras Mambo” by the Hawketts), through 1960’s studio productions of Allen Toussaint and Wardell Quezergue. Probably his best known playing was on Robert Parker’s “Barefootin’”, also from 1966. While I am a big fan of Mr. Tyler, too, who had a long and impressive career in New Orleans music, we’ll save his praise for now and do a feature on him another day. I'm behind in my blogging.

December 03, 2004

Chubby Jumps

"New Orleans Lover Man"
Chubby Newsome, Deluxe, 1949

As the bio I’ve linked to reveals, Chubby Newsome wasn’t from New Orleans; but she became well-known and made her most popular recordings there, starting in 1948 on Miltone/Deluxe with her signature tune, “Hip Shakin’ Mama”, backed up by Paul Gayten’s band. Rather than the slow blues grind of that song, “New Orleans Lover Man” is an upbeat jump number she did a year later with the Dave Bartholomew Band for Deluxe. I’ve picked it as one of my continuing spotlights on the female artists of the New Orleans music scene, as they have been in the minority over the years.

The sound quality on this one is a bit muddy, as it was transferred to LP from a 78 rpm by the Official label for a compilation they did on her. But it’s definitely worth hearing. If you want to find Chubby's stuff on CD, you can get a number of her sides via two worthy compilations. The first is Jump ‘N’ Shout on Delmark, which has Regal sides from the early 1950’s by her, as well as Deluxe and United sides by other NOLA-related artists. The other is a four CD box on Proper called Gettin' Funky: The Birth of New Orleans R&B. It contains Chubby’s Deluxe sides, including today’s feature, as well as a generous helping of other influential New Orleans performers from the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. If you are at all interested in that era of Crescent City R&B, I encourage you to check out both the budget-priced collection and the single Delmark CD.

Real Upsetters

"A Girl In Every City"
The Upsetters, unissued Vee-Jay session, c. 1958

This unissued track comes from sessions The Upsetters did for the Vee-Jay label in 1958 n Chicago. Best known as Little Richard’s road band during his rock ‘n roll stardom in the mid-1950's, they began backing other artists like Sam Cooke and Dee Clark, after Mr. Penniman got religion and stopped performing in 1957. There were three singles released two from these sessions, one backing singer Dee Clark on Falcon, “The Strip” b/w “Upsetter” on Falcon as The Upsetters, and “Hatti Malatti” b/w “Mama Loochie” on Vee-Jay in the name of Lee Diamond, their singer/pianist/saxophonist. The latter single is a classic and can be heard on the Vee-Jay CD compilation set released a few years ago.

Not all the band were from New Orleans; but Diamond (aka Wilbert Smith) was, as I believe was the drummer, Emile Russell. It seems their other fine NOLA drummer during the Little Richard days,
Charles Connor, had already left the group by 1958. Grady Gaines, their main tenor sax man, was from Texas and has kept The Upsetters name going there over the years. As for the others, who I’ll list later, I have no confirmation of their origins.

Lee Diamond sings lead on “A Girl In Every City”, and probably wrote it. It’s a pity it wasn’t released, as the song is an in-the-pocket little rocker with great horns that ends all too soon. After his exit from The Upsetters, Diamond recorded for Minit Records in New Orleans under the direction of Allen Toussaint and, then, in the mid-1960’s co-wrote with George Davis the big Aaron Neville classic, “Tell It Like It Is”.

This track comes from a Charly LP I got in the 1980s called New Orleans Connection, which has most of the 1958 sessions, including the band backing other singers. It provides the following list of session players: Grady Gaines, tenor sax; Clifford Burks, tenor sax; Larry Linnear, baritone sax; Wilbert Smith (Lee Diamond), piano and tenor sax; Nathaniel Douglas, guitar; Osie Robinson, bass; Emile Russell, drums.

December 02, 2004

It's never too late

"It's Too Late Now" (Matthews-Thrower-Bartholomew)
The Hawks, Imperial, 11-4-1954

(tune in to HOTG Internet Radio)

I mentioned The Hawks in my Dave Bartholomew (see Archives) post a few weeks back with reference to “Fats” Matthews, who also sang on that side I had up, “Hey Hey”. As I noted, Matthews was in The Hawks. Of course, this is not the group that backed Ronnie Hawkins and Bob Dylan and later became known as The Band. These here Hawks were a NOLA vocal group that had been doing gospel for many years as the Humming Four, later known as the Famous Four when recording early in the 1950’s. Bartholomew heard them and convinced them to do a gospel single for Imperial Records and then to make secular sides as The Hawks. After a few years run with no commercial success, they went back to the sanctified sounds.

I like the rather Afro-Cuban cowbell ride on “It’s Too Late Now” and
Earl Palmer’s latin-funk-tinged drumming, which unfortunately sounds muffled, due probably to a microphone placement problem for the legendary engineer/studio owner, Cosimo Matassa. Guitarist Irving “Buddy” Charles is credited with the solo on this track. Other of Bartholomew’s stable of session stalwarts,. like Frank Fields on bass, and likely Ed Frank on piano, are playing here, too; as this is just one of the vast number of recordings the producer oversaw during his heyday (roughly 1948 – 1962). Besides Matthews, the other vocalists on this track were Albert Veal, Joseph Gaines, John Morris, and Willie Thrower.

“It’s Too Late Now” was recorded in New Orleans on November 4, 1954, which was also the day my wife was born. Man, I should have blogged this a few weeks ago. Anyway, happy birthday again, Sweet One (she’s a stone music geek, too, and should have her own blog).

We’ll be in the ‘50’s, 60’s and maybe even the ‘40s for the next few posts. It will be interesting to see how many of you follow along. Hope you do.