Mr. Ernie K. Doe
NOTE: Soul Jazz Records, who own the rights to ‘Here Come the Girls’ have asked me to take the link down, and to refer you to their site….
Good day to you.
I hope you’re all digging the mix from Monday.
I had a complaint from a reader that he was having some difficulty getting it downloaded, but I’ve tested it a bunch of times, and found no file corruption, so I’m guessing it might be a traffic issue, or problems with an individual user’s ISP. If anyone else is having problems getting ahold of the whole file, drop me a line.
On a related note, those that pay attention to such things may have noticed that the bit rate on the mix is lower than some of the individual tracks I’ve been posting. I tried ripping the mix at a higher rate, and the resulting file size was MASSIVE, so much so that I figured it would cause most listeners a major inconvenience, in addition to taking up a huge chuck of my dwindling storage space.
Here in beautiful NJ – a statement I make by the way without the slightest hint of irony – the weather has been absolutely dreadful. I know that I’ve complained incessantly about the glut of tourists that clog the local roads between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but I didn’t want the summer to end prematurely, in a wet, grey haze with October-esque temperatures.
Despite the long term atmospheric downer, I like to keep the Funky16Corners Blog a place where – in the words of the late, great Slim Harpo – “the music’s hot”, so in furtherance of that cause, and in keeping with the New Orleans vibe, I bring you a tune that I tracked for years, like some deranged big game hunter. The tune I speak of, ‘Here Come the Girls’ is a later, superb effort by the man once described (possibly by himself) as “the Greatest Boy-Child ever conceived at Charity Hospital in New Orleans”, Mr. Mother-In-Law, the late, great Ernie K. Doe.
I should preface this by saying that despite by deep and abiding love for the music of New Orleans, I have been remiss in gathering the recorded works of Mr. Kador (as he was born) – aside from a few of his best Minit 45s. When K. Doe hit the charts in 1961 with ‘Mother In Law’, written, produced and arranged by the mighty Toussaint, with backing vocals by none other than Benny Spellman, he hit them HARD, riding the Top 10 of the R&B and Pop charts for several weeks. ‘Mother In Law’ was one of the biggest records to come out of New Orleans in the 60’s, and is probably the one Crescent City R&B song that everyone, from your sainted white-haired grandma to the snot-nosed kids loitering down at the 7-11 has heard, and in all likelihood, loves. Who can resists attempting to sing Spellman’s bass part when the chorus comes along? Not me.
Anyhoo, K. Doe had a few minor follow up successes (and by minor, I make reference only to their comparative lack of chart success, in no way slighting their musical quality, which was of course considerable) for the Minit/Instant organization, and spent the bulk of the 60’s making 45s for the Duke/Peacock labels. He hooked back up with Allen Toussaint in 1970 to record the amazing LP ‘Ernie K. Doe’ for the Janus label.
I first heard today’s selection – which hails from that LP – some years back when Soul Jazz released the ‘New Orleans Funk’ compilation. It came as something of a shock because I had no idea that K. Doe had done anything in the funk era, let alone anything of such high quality. I searched for years, either for the 45, or the LP, and was consistently stymied, often outbid by those with deeper pockets (or more rabid devotion to the K. Doe vibe). It was only recently that I cornered my prey as a “Buy It Now” item on E-Bay. To be sure, the Lp wasn’t cheap, but my want list these days is relatively short and sweet, I was flush (in relative terms) and decided that to strike while the iron was hot was my only choice. I did so, and let me tell you friends, when I laid that platter on the turntable, and released the beautiful sounds contained therein, I was satisfied that my investment was a wise one.
While ‘Here Come the Girls’ is a stone killer, the rest of the LP is fantastic, moving from soul, to funk to R&B and even pop, with Toussaint writing all but a few songs. It certainly deserves to be reissued. ‘Here Come the Girls’, which starts out deceptively with a march-time beat, rolls on into a funky tune, with a fantastic vocal by K. Doe. Though I’ve heard that the Meters provide the backing on this LP, I’m hard pressed to hear their influence on this track (though I do hear Toussaint on backing vocals). This is not to say that the Meters sound is not detectable elsewhere on the album, just that if they’re working it out here, it’s not at all obvious. The ‘Ernie K. Doe’ LP was not a commercial success, and was for all intents and purposes the last time he would produce wax that would find national distribution. He went through some hard, alcohol soaked times in the coming years, but came out the other side, eventually opening the Mother-in-Law Lounge in New Orleans where he would act as host, as well as performer until his untimely death in 2001. As I said before, I don’t think the LP has been reissued – and if it has, is not currently available. ‘Here Come the Girls’ is still available on the ‘New Orleans Funk’ comp, and much of K. Doe’s earlier material can be found.
On a different note, I have started receiving promo CDs and such, and while some of the stuff that falls through the Funky16Corners mail slot is not – how shall we say – to my taste, every now and then (as with the recent Dave Lewis comp) something groovy arrives. This time out, it’s the new LP by the mighty Sam Moore, he of course the Sam of “and Dave” fame, a voice, if not a name that should send shivers up and down your spine, cause sweat to break out on your forehead and set your feet to moving and your hands, or course, to clapping. When I first unwrapped the disc, and saw that Randy “Mr. American Idol with alla that Dawg crap” Jackson was manning the board in the studio, you might forgive me for lifting a skeptical eyebrow. However, some things – like Sam Moore’s voice – cannot be messed with, even at the hands of slickmeisters like Jackson.
I’m not going to yank your chain and tell you that ‘Overnight Sensational’ is the second coming of the Stax sound, but I will say that this album of duets is actually quite good. The material is by and large memorable (covers of Anne Peebles, King Curtis, J. Blackfoot, Sam Cooke, Ben E. King) and the duet partners – including Bruce Springsteen, Paul Rodgers and Wynonna Judd who does a great job with Moore on ‘I Can’t Stand the Rain’ – while generally outclassed by Moore, manage to do OK. My fave track is a funky cover of Tony! Toni! Tone!’s ‘If I Had No Loot’ with Nikka Costa.
The bottom line is that Jackson et al have created a very solid showcase for Moore’s still powerful voice. While the collection of guest artists may get this played at the local Starbucks, it’ll still make it the coolest overpriced coffee house on the block.