Mr. Earl King
“Listen – Street Parade Pt1 MP3″
I have returned from the family’s regularly scheduled (however brief) mid-November vacation, if not well rested, at least happy I got to spend some quality time with the wife and kids.
Though this’ll be posted Sunday night/Monday morning, I’m actually writing this late on Saturday after being dosed by a careless Starbucks java jerk who, when asked for decaf, sold me a large cup of hi-test. As a result, I sit here shaking like a leaf and unable to sleep.
We just got back from a long weekend in the Baltimore area. We took the boys to the National Aquarium, where in an unbilled tribute to edible fish, we were packed in like sardines. Other than that we had a wonderful time just being together. I even got to get in a little digging (how cool is my wife??).
Before I go any further, I should mention that I did a short mix for the cats over at the Hook and Sling Blog, which can be found here.
You should check it out when you get a minute (or 20…).
Today’s selection is a record that I chased for quite a long time, got outbid on more than once and – as often happens with these things – ended up getting it at a bargain price. Good things do come to those who wait.
Earl King – and if you don’t know, stop here, open up Google in a new browser, and as the kids say, get familiar – was one of the major movers and shakers of New Orleans music in the 1950’s and 1960’s, writing and recording a number of amazing records under his own name for Imperial (like ‘Come On’, ‘Trick Bag’ and ‘Mama & Papa’) and ghosting on famous sides like Professor Longhair’s legendary ‘Big Chief’ (that’s Earl whistling/singing along while Fess tickles the ivories).
Like many of his Crescent City brethren (and sistren) King (born Earl Johnson, thus all of those mysterious “E. Johnson” credits on New Orleans records) moved easily between R&B, blues, soul and (as you’ll hear today) funk, more often than not combining any and all of the above in a particular record.
The record which I have digi-ma-tized for your delectation this fine day, ‘Street Parade’ is as New Orlean-sy a record as you’re ever likely to hear, sounding like someone freeze-dried just over three minutes of Mardi Gras and pressed it into convenient 45 form. That the record’s impeccable pedigree draws from the involvement of King, Allen Toussaint and, yeah you right, the Meters adds to its mighty second line swing. Sure, your neighbors might wonder why you’re strutting around your living room waving an umbrella and a handkerchief, but let them wonder. You’re the one with the shiny new Earl King MP3.
Though Messrs. King, Toussaint, Neville, Nocentelli, Porter and Modeliste whipped this (and a full albums worth of tracks) together in the studio back in nineteen and seventy two, ‘Street Parade’ was the only track that got released (at least in ’72). There was apparently some major label interest at the time, but it dissipated and it wasn’t until almost a decade later that the full album saw the light of day (and then, only as an import).
As it was, ‘Street Parade’ was only issued on Kansu* – only one of two records I’ve ever found on the label – and was probably little heard (if at all) outside of New Orleans. That is of course a shame, and if you follow the goings on hereabouts, a fate that befell a grip of seriously tasty NOLA records. Dwelling on such injustice tends to put me off my gumbo, but giving the record another spin should remedy the situation, at least for a moment.
Now, Part two (not part two of ‘Street Parade’ but rather part two of the post…).
Recently a chain of shoe drug stores in the UK called Boots has started to use Ernie K. Doe’s ‘Here Come the Girls’ in their TV ads, and as a result, Funky16Corners – probably the only current source of an MP3 of the track – has been getting a huge amount of hits.
I thought it only fitting, since ‘Here Come the Girls’ is also a Toussaint production with backing by the Meters, that I should bring Ernie K. Doe and his amazing song back to the front page.
So, here’s the original post, with the MP3 link.
See you soon.
PS If you get the urge, head on over to Iron Leg for some spy theme organ groove…
Originally posted 8/30/06
Mr. Ernie K. Doe
UPDATE: SoulJazz Records have informed me that they have the license for ‘Here Come The Girls’ and have asked me to take down the link. If you want the tune, head over 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 and tight backing by the Meters**. 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.
*Kansu being Marshal Sehorn’s ‘sister’ label to Deesu
**The original version of this post included a paragraph where I expressed some uncertainty about the involvement of the Meters on ‘Here Come the Girls’. I was corrected (in the original thread’s comments) by Dan from the mighty Home of the Groove blog, who confirmed that it was in fact the Meters.