19. “(Every Time I Hear) That Mellow
Saxophone” by Roy Montrell and His Band (1956)
MONTRELL swung guitar for many supreme acts:
Lloyd Price, Little Richard, Allen Toussaint, and eventually became Fats Domino’s
bandleader. Left to his own devices, he created this nugget for us. It’s too
bad “Mellow Saxophone” didn’t become the hit it deserved to be because that
would’ve meant more recordings from Roy Montrell and His Band. Let’s just be
thankful for what we have!
BONUS 1: Robert Plant’s version:
BONUS 2: A Finnish band’s take on it, and they’re
20. “Love Lots of Lovin’ ” by Lee Dorsey and Betty Harris (1967)
DUETS often end up in a bland limbo-land. By
not taking on the personality of one singer over another, they often take on NO
personality. Well, here’s an exception and a song that in many ways was too
easy to pick since it consists of two tasteful singers, a hot band, and an
Allen Toussaint arrangement of an Allen Toussaint composition. (Above: Toussaint pictured on left; Dorsey on right)
BONUS: Here’s something slightly more obscure
but still wunnerful, a duet by Eddie Bo and Inez Cheatham:
21. “Joe” by Dale Hawkins (1969)
A treasured son of Goldmine, Louisiana, the always feisty
Dale Hawkins (R.I.P., sweet man) gave us much more than “Suzy Q.” For example,
his 1969 album, L.A., MEMPHIS, AND TYLER, TEXAS can be enjoyed from start to
finish. The gritty, sticks-with-ya “Joe” is taken from that album and seems like what used to be called an “answer song” to “Hey, Joe.”
BONUS: Dale’s instrumental “Back Street” from
L.A. MEMPHIS, AND TYLER, TEXAS was clearly meant as a song for a movie
(imaginary or real, I don’t know). A YouTube wit picked up on that. Funny though:
when you think of Dale Hawkins, the first thing to enter your mind is not “metropolis,”
but, hey, when in Hollywood....
22. “Blues Negres” by Cleoma Falcon (1934)
I stumbled on "Blues Negres" on a compilation called HOT WOMEN: WOMEN SINGERS FROM THE TORRID REGIONS OF THE WORLD, put together by the one and only R. Crumb. Here’s an ugly “video” of the song. But with music this good, who cares?
I’ve also come across a shape-shifter on YouTube
named stbricesday who uses old film to make music videos for old Cajun songs.
Here is one of stbricesday’s creations featuring the First Lady of Cajun,
Cleoma Breau Falcon:
“Mon Coeur T’Appelle” by Cleoma Breau Falcon (1929):
REQUEST FOR STBRICESDAY: Please take on “Blues
Negres” by Cleoma Falcon next!
23. “They Raided the Joint” by Linda Hopkins (1951)
THIS grand lady is the real thing, and though born in 1924 (as Melinda Helen Matthews in New Orleans), she still performs—that’s what I heard. If I had to chose my favorite Linda Hopkins song—which I would hate to be forced to do—I might go with: “Three Time Blues”—a threatening, homicidal blues that she reads with perfect intimacy. I also love her on the bouncy “Rock and Rock Blues”; the naughty “Shiver and Shake”; the insinuating “I Can’t”—she also does sultry perfectly. Like New Orleans itself, this hometown heroine has no boundaries. But I share “They Raided the Joint” just because this footage is so groovin.
24. “Something Out of Nothing” by Lenny McDaniel & The New Era (1965?)
BLUE-EYED Soul at its peak. McDaniel, the Caucasian singer, was 17 years old when this crazed romp was recorded:
BONUS: Even in 2011, you can hear Mr. McDaniel’s abundant soul still flowing:
25. “Haven’t Got a Dollar to Pay Your
House Rent Man” by Genevieve Davis (1927)
MISS Davis is one of many great Louisiana
female vocalists from the early jazz era but not much seems to be
known about her apart from what you or I can hear in her singing. Apparently
she made only one other recording, a lukewarm duet with one Leonard Mitchell.
But think about it: Exactly half of Genevieve Davis’s recorded output is still
worthy of our attention! By any standards, that’s a dang good ratio.
26. “ Someone to Give My Love To” by
Joe Simon (1973)
IS Joe Simon the Ray Charles of Louisiana? (Mr.
Simon was born in Simmesport, Louisiana.) No less of an authority than Sir
Shambling (www.sirshambling.com) raves about the man:
No question Joe Simon is the most underrated southern soul singer. Why?
I think it’s because at first listen it all sounds so easy, so laid back. Never
an “in –your-face” screamer, he achieved his emotional impact through a
complete command of phrasing and dynamics, his rich dark velvet baritone voice
simply oozed class and the subtlety of his approach worked on listeners like a
slow flame. Simon had a beautiful dark velvet baritone voice which floated
effortlessly over and around a tune. But if you pay close attention you’ll hear
a master craftsman at work. I don’t know any singer who repays repeat listening
so handsomely. Every time I play a Joe Simon track I hear subtle shades of
emphasis, nuances of timing, volume and diction that make the cut come up brand
first heard “Someone to Give My Love To” on the MORE DIRTY LAUNDRY comp,
which celebrated black artists who covered country music. Ever since, I have
been listening to, and enjoying, the music of Joe Simon. (Both MORE DIRTY
LAUNDRY and the first volume, DIRTY LAUNDRY, deserve your ears.)
1: Joe Simon balladeering:
2: Joe Simon singing the theme to CLEOPATRA JONES:
Luck Blues” by Beatrice Hill with J.D. Nicholson & His Jiving Five
love to know more about this one. All I know is that the label, Elko, came out
of Louisiana and that Clifton Chenier is in the band backing the very smooth
28. “Don’t Let the Devil Ride” by Ike Gordon (1975?)
a sucker for the guitar-playing of the Rev. Charlie Jackson and that’s him on
guitar on this track, with Ike Gordon singing. The great Booker label (“The
Gospel Headquarters of New Orleans”) was responsible for the original release
and the great Tompkins Square label out of New York is responsible for not
letting us forget and for sharing this and a glob of other gems via their 3-CD
collection: FIRE IN MY BONES: RAW + RARE + OTHERWORLDLY AFRICAN-AMERICAN GOSPEL (1944-2007).
The Rev. Charles Jackson, originally of McComb, Mississippi, moved to Louisiana
to preach and play. Here is a very awkward Aussie TV interview with him
followed by no awkwardness whatsoever: his sublime music:
29. “Get on Board Aunt Susan” by Jimmie Davis (1931)
ONE reason to love music is that politicians are usually not involved in it; in
neither its creation or production. Outside, at shows, they might get on stage;
introduce an act; pick a pocket or two; say a few lies; but then they leave us,
first learned of this song from Allen Lowe in his seminal book, AMERICAN POP: FROM MINSTREL TO MOJO: ON RECORD: 1893–1956, and then I heard it for myself on
the boxset of CDs that accompanied the book. In the section of the book on
Davis, Lowe wrote:
is an arc of fantasy, reinvention, and denial that exists apart from any real
inner life, a profession and philosophy completely divorced from most true and
Davis is maybe the one politician I could tolerate—if only he promised to sing
and not yap. Twice the governor of Louisiana, Davis is still pretty famous for
having written (or at least purchased the rights to) and sung, “You Are My
Sunshine.” He also wrote and sang others. I don’t know about his politics,
actually, but he had a warm, smooth voice.
people have enjoyed knowing Davis recorded some bawdy songs before becoming
governor. But that’s a one-trick pony and I prefer the magic of this oddity, “Get
on Board Aunt Susan.” On this song, Jimmie Davis was something even more than
two-sided: he was a visionary.
I am not mishearing, the lyrics refer to a white woman (Aunt Susan) who does
not want to get aboard a train or boat because there is a black woman aboard.
The singer involves both his heart and mind in his response and in trying to
argue with his aunt to change her mind. I don’t know of any earlier song by a
white person dealing more open-mindedly with race. If you do, please let me
know. That’s the great Snoozer Quinn, of Blogalusa, Louisiana, by the way, on
1: Jimmie Davis, actor, singer, politician:
2: Snoozer Quinn on film!
"FUNKY OLD SCHOOL" SUMMARY:
Please send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know if you'd like to see PART 2 of SMIRNOFF’S FUNKY OLD SCHOOL LOUISIANA MIX because I wouldn’t mind sharing many more musical discoveries that you might like. Thanks! MAS