19 January 2010

Ultimate Singles Jukebox [Slots 109 & 110]

Robert "Bobby" Charles Guidry, a native Cajun of Louisiana, died this past week at the age of 71. Known professionally as Bobby Charles, he wrote many popular songs, including "See You Later, Alligator," one of the first big hits in the new rock genre, and a paean to his musical center, "Walking To New Orleans." Charles was a performer in his own right (the first white artist signed to the famous Chicago blues label Chess), and counted a number of rock's elite as his friends, including Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson. But his public persona was a very guarded one; while he sang with The Band in The Last Waltz, his appearances were few and far between. In addition, his recorded output was only occasional. But Homemade Songs, a 15-track album of originals recorded last year with pals Spooner Oldham and Dr. John, was released in May 2008. The liner notes were provided by none other than Dylan: “He was more successful as a songwriter than a singer. And it’s a sin ’cause he’s a hell of a singer. He’s got one of the most melodious voices ever transferred to vinyl. The boy could sing like a bird — he still does.”

TRIBUTE: The New Orleans Times-Picayune provides an excellent tribute to Bobby Charles upon his death on 14 January 2010.

ESSENTIAL LISTENING: Last Train To Memphis (Rice 'n Gravy Records, 2003) - an excellent two-CD collection of twenty years worth of Charles' best songs, with notable musicians on hand to help out. Bobby Charles (Bearsville, 1972) - called the "lost album by The Band" because the group served as backup to Charles, it is highly recommended (find it on iTunes).


See You Later, Alligator
Bill Haley & His Comets
Written by Robert Charles Guidry
Produced by Milt Gabler
Decca Records 29791
Released 1 February 1956

The music revolution was here. Some knew it, others didn't. Elvis smashed through the square barrier, but other musicians maintained the traditional look and surreptitiously advanced the cause. In 1954, Bill Haley & His Comets recorded and released arguably the most important record in rock and roll history: "Rock Around The Clock." Throughout the rest of that year and 1955, the group had a series of Top 10 hits (most notably a remake of Big Joe Turner's "Shake, Rattle & Roll").

In February 1956, Haley struck again, this time with a song by a young New Orleans based
writer and erstwhile performer named Bobby Charles. "See You Later, Alligator" was a phrase that Charles accidentally tripped upon and incorporated into a tune. Almost overnight, teenagers went mad for it, and were dancing in the aisles in movie theaters when Bill Haley & His Comets were featured singing an up tempo "Alligator" in the film The Blackboard Jungle.

Listen and watch Bill Haley & His Comets perform "See You Later, Alligator" from the 1956 movie The Blackboard Jungle.

Walking To New Orleans
Fats Domino
Written by Antoine Domino & Bobby Charles
Imperial Records
Released 1960

Antoine Dominique "Fats" Domino (born in New Orleans, 1928) is, without a doubt, one of the most important figures in the history of rock and roll. He began playing piano for change outside honky tonks in New Orleans, and quit school at 14 to pursue a musical career in the evenings while holding a day job at a bed-spring factory.

Domino was discovered by bandleader Dave Bartholomew and had his first of a string of hits in 1949 with "The Fat Man." Over the next ten years, he would sell 65 million records, second only to Elvis Presley. One of those hits was a tribute to his hometown written with Bobby Charles, "Walking To New Orleans."

Watch Fats Domino and his unique rolling piano style in a live performance of "Walking To New Orleans."

No comments:

Post a Comment