The Mighty King Lee
“Listen – Warren Lee – Star Revue- MP3″
I hope the end of another week find you all ready to dive into the weekend head first. Word on the Weather Channel is that we can expect an uncharacteristic taste of summer for the next few days, which is – especially in April, with the storied showers and all – quite an excellent development which I plan on taking full advantage of.
The tune I bring you today is one of my all time fave New Orleans soul records.
Warren Lee doesn’t have one of the biggest discographies on the NOLA scene of the 60s, but in its ranks are a couple of the finest records to fall out of the Crescent City during that era, including a couple of gritty funk sides (‘Underdog Backstreet’, ‘Funky Belly’ and ‘Mama Said We Can’t Get Married’).
Lee spent the 1960s recording R&B, soul and funk for a wide variety of New Orleans labels including Round, Soundex, Jin, Nola, Deesu, Tou Sea and Choctaw*.
The tune I bring you today is my favorite Warren Lee record. ‘Star Revue’, recorded in 1965 was Lee’s first collaboration with the mighty Allen Toussaint, and is not only Lee’s best side, but one of the real high points in Toussaint’s incomparable discography.
‘Star Revue’ is a pounding soul side in which Lee heps the listener to the fact that a show is coming to town, featuring (with namechecks from Lee) Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and a headlining spot (and a monument to modesty) by the “Mighty King Lee”!
‘Star Revue’ is at least in my opinion an important record as well, in that it carries with it the sounds of old school New Orleans R&B, the rolling beat, prominent piano (by Toussaint) and party time vocals (backing by Toussaint and Willie Harper), yet is unmistakably a “soul” record that can stand with anything else coming out in 1965. By any standard it should have been a hit, and although it doesn’t seem to have made the charts, it did get play in other markets, evidenced by it’s inclusion on one of Phildelphia radio legend Jerry Blavat’s party compilations of the time. The tune was also covered later by Arthur Conley.
As I mentioned earlier, Lee went on to record a couple of hot funk 45s, but for me, no matter how funky he got ‘Star Revue’ is the best thing he ever did.
I hope you dig it and I’ll be back on Monday with some heat.