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Archive for August 16th, 2011

Review: Bobby Charles, “Bobby Charles: Rhino Handmade Edition”

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Gumbo’s on the menu, and Rhino Handmade is serving.  The self-titled Bearsville debut LP from Bobby Charles is a N’awlins stew of roots music, laid-back country, soul and pure rock-and-roll from the man who gave the world “See You Later, Alligator,” and Rhino Handmade has expanded the original 1972 LP with two discs of delicious bonus material (RHM2 52663, 2011), shipping today from the label.

It’s somewhat ironic that Bobby Charles was recorded in Woodstock, New York, as the man born Robert Charles Guidry (1938-2010) was a New Orleans boy through and through.  Though Bill Haley had the hit with “See You Later, Alligator,” Charles had a string of solo recordings on the Chess, Jewel, Paula and Imperial labels but had taken other detours when notorious manager Albert Grossman persuaded him to set up shop at Bearsville.  You can take the band out of the bayou, but you can’t take the bayou out of the band…and when that band is four-fifths of The Band (no emphasis necessary), what results is a stone-cold classic that perhaps will get its long-overdue time in the sun.

Though the booklet contains a photograph of Robbie Robertson with Bobby and other Band members in the studio, Robertson apparently didn’t play on any of these tracks, but Rick Danko, Garth Hudson, Levon Helm and Richard Manuel certainly did.  Despite his songwriting credentials, Charles was not a musician himself; guitarist Amos Garrett comments in the liner notes that “Bobby couldn’t play a note on any instrument.”  But the musicianship is top-notch throughout, with his Band-mates joined by Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, as well as Garrett, Ben Keith, Geoff Muldaur, Bob Neuwirth, David Sanborn and other notables.  Bobby Charles plays a bit like an alternate Band album with Robbie Robertson’s idiosyncratic songwriting replaced by that of Charles, whose sly but positive lyrical outlook makes a world of difference.

Rick Danko co-produced the original 10-track album with John Simon and Charles, recording at Bearsville Studio outside Woodstock, a place described by Charles in the deluxe edition’s accompanying interview as “kinda magical.”  It was an opportunity for the public to become reacquainted with Charles’ own drawling voice, as his greatest songs reached the commercial heights in renditions by Clarence “Frogman” Henry (“(I Don’t Know Why I Love You) But I Do”) or Fats Domino (“Walking to New Orleans.”)

Hit the jump to visit Bearsville Studio, 1972, as Bobby takes the microphone! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 16, 2011 at 12:14

Posted in Bobby Charles, Features, News, Reissues

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Release Round-Up: Week of August 16

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Breaking Benjamin, Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin (Hollywood)

A decade of Breaking Benjamin is collected on this new compilation, available in both standard and deluxe editions.  The deluxe edition offers an additional disc of rare and unreleased bonus material. (Amazon)

Dazz Band, Hot Spot: Expanded Edition (Funkytowngrooves)

The Dazz Band’s 1985 swan song on Motown Records is expanded with five remixes. (Amazon)

Nick Heyward, Tangled and The Apple Bed (Cherry Red)

Heyward’s 1995 and 1998 albums get the deluxe treatment from Cherry Red.  Tangled adds a brace of bonus tracks including an EP of Beatles covers, while The Apple Bed adds B-sides and one previously unreleased cut. (Official site)

The Jones Girls, On Target: Expanded Edition (Funkytowngrooves)

In 1983, the Detroit-born Jones Girls – Brenda, Valorie and Shirley – decamped from Philadelphia International to RCA for this album, which has been expanded with three instrumentals and remixes. (Amazon)

Junior Wells’ Chicago Blues Band, Hoodoo Man Blues (Delmark)

This 1965 studio album finds Junior Wells joined by Buddy Guy for 12 smoking blues workouts.  Delmark expands the original album with three previously-available alternate takes and two never-before-released performances. (Amazon)

Various Artists, Jazz at the Hollywood Bowl (Verve Select)

Norman Granz brought his all-star Verve roster to the Hollywood Bowl in 1956 where this classic album was recorded.  Louis, Ella, Art, Oscar and co. all appear, and eleven Armstrong tracks premiere on American CD on this deluxe edition. Read the full story here. (Amazon)

Written by Joe Marchese

August 16, 2011 at 08:33