Archive for the ‘Fats Domino’ Category

Professor Longhair

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Listen: Mess Around / Professor Longhair

‘Fess, as he was known to friends and fellow musicians, waited thirty years after releasing his first single before making a lone trip to the UK. The master of “rhumba-rhythmed piano blues and choked singing”, to quote journalist Tony Russell, was promoting his PROFESSOR LONGHAIR LIVE ON THE QUEEN MARY album and ‘Mess Around’ single. Recorded on board said ship during a party thrown by Paul and Linda McCartney, the album is an oasis worth searching out.

Through time, his invention of what became known as the New Orleans Mardi Gras sound has been revered by everyone from Fats Domino and Huey Piano Smith to Allen Toussaint and Dr. John. Despite a most productive period on Atlantic Records in the 50′s, he never had mainstream success, instead spiraling downward during the 60′s and 70′s, landing work as a janitor saddled with a gambling addiction. Only during the last years of his life did he begin to see royalties of any kind. And so with little fanfare, bless Paul and Linda for coming to his aid, helping secure a deal with Harvest, and giving him a deserved, overdue break.

Your initial listen through ‘Mess Around’ will simultaneously reveal everything about his distinctive, one of a kind style, apparently the result of learning to play on a piano missing several crucial keys.

Many times when legendary players, years on, try to recapture their spark via a current, contemporary album, the magic sounds tired or lost altogether. Not the case here. Not in the slightest.

Robert Parker

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

RobertParkerBarefootin, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

RobertParkerBarefootinUKA, Robert Parker, Nola, Island, Sue

Listen: Barefootin’ / Robert Parker

Robert Parker began his recording career playing with Professor Longhair on ‘Mardi Gras In New Orleans’ in ’49. Over the next decade, this guy worked with just about every New Orleans musician, including Fats Domino, Irma Thomas, and Huey ‘Piano’ Smith. You name it. Hitting his stride in ’66, after signing to the small Nola Records, he and the label delivered a Top 10 (#7) BILLBOARD hit with ‘Barefootin’.

RobertParkerAction, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is) / Robert Parker

RobertParkerJukebox, Robert Parker

As it turns out, the single was a classic double A side, as ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)’ became a huge Mod club hit in the UK. It’s cemented his popularity in Europe till this day, where he still can make the occasional appearances and get some royal treatment.

RobertParkerGetTa, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Get Ta Steppin’ / Robert Parker

Despite lack of national radio and chart success, his musical success never stopped. Released in ’74 ‘Get Ta Steppin’ eventually became known as a southern funk template, determined not only by those in the know but more importantly, via endless sampling.

RobertParkerGetDown, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Get Right On Down / Robert Parker

Almost as though lightning struck twice, not unlike the ‘Barefootin’ / ‘Let’s Go Baby (Where The Action Is)’ coupling, ‘Get Ta Steppin’ / ‘Get Right On Down’ proved to be another double side, basically must have in any respectable soul collection, 7″ single.

RobertParkerCountry, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: Give Me The Country Side Of Life / Robert Parker

Despite not issuing albums during the 70′s (his only LP is BAREFOOTIN’ from ’66), Robert Parker just proceeded to make a seemingly essential single each year or so, right up through ’76.

RobertParkerLittleBit, Robert Parker, Nola, Island

Listen: A Little Bit Of Something (Is Better Than A Whole Lot Of Nothing) / Robert Parker

As with his 60′s output, career long musical arranger, producer and collaborator Wardell Quezergue was part of ‘A Little Bit Of Something (Is Better Than A Whole Lot of Nothing)’, his final single prior to recording retirement and one I just never see around.