March 28, 2006

Dueling Influences

"Yes I've Been Crying" (D. Malone)
Rose Davis, Play 101, (c. 1973)

Dry your eyes

This find comes from a large lot of 45’s I bought last summer. I had never seen or heard the single before; but, reading the label made me curious. As you will note, it reveals that Tommy Ridgley produced it at Knight Studio in Metairie, LA (western suburb of New Orleans), and that Play Records was based in New Orleans. We’ve discussed Knight Studio and the Knight label, owned by Traci Borges, here before, as Eddie Bo was associated with them during the late 1960’s into the 1970’s. Being unfamiliar with Rose Davis, too, I recently got around to digging up what background I could find about the artist and this single.

I’m presenting “Yes I’ve Been Crying”, the mid-tempo B-side, as a curiosity more than anything, as Ridgley’s production gives the song a strange dual arrangement that certainly wasn't a part of the original Deadric Malone composition (originally done by Lavelle’ Miss Lavell’ White on Duke in 1959). The main body of our feature is done in a sauntering, early 1960’s Popeye-style groove (the horns playing a line lifted from Chris Kenner’s “Something You Got”) with a nice, funky drum shuffle added, while the bridge twice shifts into a 1950’s R&B arrangement similar to Dave Bartholomew’s band backing Fats Domino (and closer to what the original version's arrangement was like). Not only do the two styles not cohabitate particularly well here, but, in 1973, both were long past their “sell by” date. Despite the “re-muddling”, good musicianship and Davis’ decent vocal make the song worth a few spins anyway. Ridgley is probably on piano here; but I won’t venture a guess on the other players.

The top side, “Sittin’ And Drinking”, is a fairly well done slow blues cover of a Christine Kittrell song. According to John Broven, in his fine book, Rhythm & Blues In New Orleans, Davis’ version was briefly popular in New Orleans upon its initial release; and, probably on the strength of that local noise, the record was picked up by Excello, which put it out (#2335) in 1973 or 1974. Soon thereafter, the Nashville label issued another Davis single (#2337),
“That’s Enough” b/w “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye” (which, I believe, is a cover of the 1963 Danny White side), that seems to be her last recording as an artist. I see that she sang backup on Ridgley’s 1992 CD, How Long, in my collection, but have uncovered no other mentions of her, before or since.

As Broven points out, Play 101/Excello 2335 was one of singer/songwriter/bandleader Tommy Ridgley’s first ventures as a record producer. I don’t know for sure that he oversaw Rose Davis’ other Excello single, but it is likely. Hearing “That’s Enough” at the Soul Club link, I’d say it’s a much better production. So, we’ll call the influences at cross-purposes on “Yes I’ve Been Crying” an experiment, a learning experience. That just makes the Play single, apparently the only release on the label, a more interesting artifact. As far as I can tell, Rose Davis was one of the few artists, if not the only one, Ridgley ever got to produce. If you know of any others, please drop me a comment or an e-mail.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Excello 2335 version has been in my jukebox for 2 years and had no idea Tommy Ridgely produced this great Rose Davis record. Thanks for the info and I sure wish Excello would have given Ridgely credit on the record like the Play original.

4:58 PM, March 29, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Go figure. Guess they were trying to save on printing costs! Poor Tommy.

6:01 PM, March 29, 2006  

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