08 March 2011

Ultimate Singles Jukebox [Slot 124] (Special Mardi Gras Edition!)

Let The Good Times Roll
b/w "Do You Mean To Hurt Me So"
Shirley & Lee
Written by Leonard Lee
Produced by Dave Bartholomew
Aladdin 3225
Recorded & Released, New Orleans, Louisiana 1956

One of the quintessential rock and roll singles to come out of New Orleans, Shirley & Lee's "Let The Good Times Roll" sold a million copies in 1956, reaching #1 on the R&B chart and #20 on the Pop chart.

Shirley Goodman and Leonard Lee were high school classmates who caught the ear of Aladdin Records owner Eddie Messner. The duo's first hit was "I'm Gone" in 1952 (it zoomed to #2 on the R&B list), a scattered beat blues that is credited by some as a precursor to ska and reggae.

But Shirley & Lee took a real right turn with the driving "Let The Good Times Roll." Produced by Crescent City legend Dave Bartholomew, the secret of the song is the driving drum beat of one of the true masters of the instrument, Earl Palmer. It gives the tune its bawdiness along with the cool contrast between Goodman's soprano and Lee's baritone.

After a split with Lee, Shirley Goodman continued to work in the music business through the 1960s as a session singer for Dr. John, Sonny & Cher, and others. Notably, she was a background singer on The Rolling Stones' Exile On Main St. Goodman briefly came out of retirement in 1974, when she was convinced by her friend Sylvia Robinson to record what became one of the seminal hits from the disco era, "Shame, Shame, Shame."

Shirley returned to New Orleans and lived there until her death in 2005.

"Let The Good Times Roll" is true classic to enjoy over and over again, especially while The Big Easy leads the celebration of Mardi Gras today. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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