April 28, 2006

A Side Man Steps Up Front Again

"Mudd" (R. Montrell)
Roy Montrell, Minit 619, 1960

I’ve had this instrumental on a CD compilation (Charly’s The Minit/Instant Story) for years, and never really connected with it. Then I came across the 45 recently, gave it a spin, and got a whole new feeling about it. Despite the rather beat up condition of the vinyl, the groove on this tune pulled me in – something that had never happened on the digital version. It’s not the first time something like this has happened, listening to records. They can just have more of a mojo than CDs. Of course, I regularly reduce ‘em to 1’s and 0’s for the sake of our discussions; but I still think some of that essence comes through.

As discussed in
my earlier post on Roy Montrell, this go-to guitarist on the New Orleans recording scene in the later 1950’s and early 1960’s had only one other single in his name, Specialty 583, “(Every Time I Hear) That Mellow Saxophone” b/w “Ooh-Wow”. But both of those 1956 scorchers feature him as vocalist, showing little to none of his instrumental abilities.

Recorded four years later and released as Minit 619, “Mudd” b/w “The Montrell” made up for that, featuring Montrell’s guitar, sans vocals, on two of his own compositions. The B-side is a more straightforward, and less interesting, tune and performance; but “Mudd” is a different pressed wad of wax, as it brings out various aspects of his playing style: bluesy, string-bending lead work, rock ‘n roll double string riffs, and rhythmic chord comping. To me, the guitar figure that starts out the song and later repeats sounds like part of the main riff on the 1957 Bill Justis song, “Raunchy”. But he doesn’t stick with it long enough to matter.

“Mudd” was made at a time when Allen Toussaint was running the sessions for Joe Banashak’s Minit label, so I assume he oversaw and possibly arranged this one for his house guitarist. I love the way the horns come in a various points and lazily insinuate themselves into the song. I am equally knocked out by the drumming, probably by session regular John Boudreaux, that just didn’t hit me before. His groove is so laid back and unassuming that you, too, might not notice at first how he is messing with the beat. You’ve got to give Boudreaux props for playing with that proto-funk feel. It’s like something you’d find Smokey Johnson doing later in the decade. I’d like to know if Toussaint gave Boudreaux instructions for this (as he often did), or if the drummer came up with it on his own.

The other regular session men probably on this track are Chuck Badie on bass, Nat Perrilliat and/or David Lastie on tenor sax, Red Tyler or Clarence Ford on baritone sax, and Toussaint on piano. Together they worked on records for Chris Kenner, Ernie K-Doe, and Irma Thomas, to name but a few. Then a number of the players (Montell, Boudreaux, Tyler, Badie, and Lastie) helped Harold Battiste found AFO Records and contributed to those sessions during the label’s brief run. From there, Montrell became a regular in Fats Dominos road band, serving for well over a decade before dying of a drug overdose.


Blogger vik said...

Love your site. My first visit, and I'm already learnin. Love the James Cotton track.

Great job with this post. Keep doin what your doin.

Peace. You may find some albums you'll like at my site.

1:59 PM, April 28, 2006  
Blogger Todd Lucas said...

I like this one a lot. Nice, mid-tempo pace and really cool guitar playing.

8:10 AM, May 01, 2006  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Chuck, I agree. There's a fine art to never changing your strings until they break. It's a part of Roy's sound. I'd give anything to know what kind of amp he used. Definitely running hot, cheap or
poorly recorded - or both. Good points.

9:52 AM, May 03, 2006  
Blogger J Epstein said...

Christ, what a foul stench!

In a good way, of course - it's funky in here!



8:50 PM, May 04, 2006  
Blogger J Epstein said...

Oh, and BTW, I always LOVE the peek-a-boos showing through the 45 center holes - a nifty touch.


8:54 PM, May 04, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dan phillips could you contact me please. Roy Montrell was my grandfather and i would like to do more research of his music. PLEASE contact me. eddiex2g@hotmail.com

8:58 AM, October 05, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you are wrong with your identification of the musicians, the drummer doesn't sound like the great Boudreaux and Badie used to play standup bass, although he played the electric while touring with Lionel Hampton 1954. There's a lineup for the Montrells Minit session in Blues Records 1943 - 70.
Cheers Per Oldaeus.

4:28 PM, September 10, 2009  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Exact details on musicians are very hard to come by for many of Toussaint's sessions - but it is known that he used the AFO session players regularly, including Boudreaux, Badie, and Montrell in the early 1960s. Of course, there were others. You know, Per Oldaeus, it is hard to give much weight to a comment from someone who tells me I am wrong, seems to imply that he knows the details in question, and yet does not offer them. The purpose of this blog is to dig some righteous grooves and try to expand the knowledge base about the music and players, if possible, so that it is easily accessible to more people. I always appreciate (and need) help in that regard, as I do not know it all, or even 10% of it!

If I can find a good used copy of the discography you mention, which retails for over $200.00, or maybe a library copy somewhere, I'll see how credible their information is. All depends on the source(s).

Thanks for almost sharing. The door's always open. . . .

12:16 AM, September 11, 2009  

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