The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Bobby Charles’ Category

Light in the Attic Gets Funky in the Country with Bobby Darin, Mac Davis, Link Wray, Bobbie Gentry and More

leave a comment »

What the hell is “Country Funk,” you ask?

That’s the question being posed by Light in the Attic on its new compilation, titled (what else?) Country Funk: 1969-1975.  The label goes on to answer, in part, of the “inherently defiant genre”: “the style encompasses the elation of gospel with the sexual thrust of the blues, country hoedown harmony with inner city grit.  It is alternately playful and melancholic, slow jammin’ and booty shakin’.  It is both studio slick and barroom raw.”  Well, those definitions certainly work for us, but you can hear for yourself on the recently-released collection featuring 16 songs from a fantastically eclectic group including Dale Hawkins, Mac Davis, Link Wray, Bobby Charles, Tony Joe White, Bobbie Gentry, Bob(by) Darin and more!

The tracks on Country Funk are all drawn from the period between 1969 and 1975, a time of great soul-searching for many American artists.  With the Vietnam War raging on, the Summer of Love in the past and American politics in upheaval, many singers and songwriters looked inward to express the turmoil.  (Some even responded to the social climate by turning even further to pop escapism, though that’s a story for another anthology.)   It was inevitable that there would be much genre-melding.  One of the most chameleonic artists of all time was Bobby Darin, onetime teen idol and Academy Award nominated actor who threw himself into everything from rockabilly to teenybopper pop to brassy Broadway.  Darin immersed himself in the counterculture, increasingly uncomfortable with the trappings of showbiz.  From his 1969 album Commitment comes “Light Blue,” a dark, sad, folk-style composition from Darin’s own pen.

Though Darin was Bronx-born, many of the figures on Country Funk have deep Southern roots: Louisiana’s Tony Joe White, Dale Hawkins, Johnny Adams and Bobby Charles, Texas’ Mac Davis, Kentucky’s Jim Ford, Mississippi’s Bobbie Gentry.  White, Charles and Hawkins all brought the culture of the swamp to their recordings, touching on blues and boogie with songs like “Studspider,” “Street People” and “L.A. Memphis Tyler Texas,” respectively.  Another Louisiana native, Mac Rebennack a.k.a. Dr. John, supplied “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” for blues guitarist Johnny Jenkins.  Jim Ford reinvented Stevie Wonder’s “I Wanna Make Her Love Me” for his classic 1969 album Harlan County, bringing the country funk to the Motown sound.  Like White and Charles, Mac Davis had his greatest successes as a songwriter rather than as a performer; Elvis Presley made standards out of “In the Ghetto” and “Memories.”  (Tony Joe White also benefited from The King’s patronage when he adopted “Polk Salad Annie” as his own.)  Johnny Adams, whose recordings typically touched on blues, jazz and gospel absorbed in New Orleans, offers “Georgia Morning Dew” from 1970.  Davis is heard here as a singer with 1974’s “Lucas Was a Redneck” and a songwriter on John Randolph Marr’s “Hello, L.A., Bye Bye Birmingham” from 1970, co-written with Delaney Bramlett of Delaney and Bonnie.  Bobbie Gentry proves that she was much more than just “Ode to Billie Joe” with the earthy (and funky!) “He Made a Woman Out of Me.”   And those artists tell just some of the story on Country Funk!

You’ll find more after the jump, including the full track listing with discography and an order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 3, 2012 at 10:13

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

with 3 comments

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

Tagged with

Bobby Charles’ “Homemade Songs” Become Handmade Project

leave a comment »

Rhino Handmade has announced their latest title, to be released toward the end of summer. Appropriately, it’s a hot, swampy one: an expanded edition of Bobby Charles’ 1972 debut album for Bearsville Records.

While he’s best known as the songwriter of “See You Later Alligator” and “Walking to New Orleans,” Charles cut his first solo album in Woodstock, New York with the help of an all-star team that included Dr. John, David Sanborn and four-fifths of The Band.

The set’s bonus material features 25 bonus tracks, including unreleased songs, demos and single versions. Of those tracks, only four have been released on CD before, on a rare 1996 box set devoted to the Bearsville label. There’ll also be a third disc devoted to a vintage interview with the singer, recorded at the time of the album’s release and conducted by Barry Hansen – who would be better known by another name throughout the decade: Dr. Demento. An added bonus rounds out the first 500 copies: a reproduction of Charles’ Bearsville single to promote the album, “Small Town Talk” b/w “Save Me Jesus.”

The whole set is available on August 16. You can pre-order it here and hit the jump for the full press release and track breakdown. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 7, 2011 at 18:47