Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lee Dorsey

The Peabodys were in my parents' Saturday Night Discussion Group, and somehow we knew them anyway. They had 3 kids, David, who was a boy, and two girls: Felma and Saye. Felma was older than me and Saye was younger, and they were both in my school.

One day the Peabodys took a (second?) mortgage on their house and used the money to invest in the city’s first Sam The Record Man franchise. They put it in the Garden City Shopping Centre, and that was back ine old days, before the mall was expanded to include Eaton’s.

Later they moved into the newer part of the mall. Both parents and both girls worked in the store, but never all at the same time. Over the years I bought lots of LPs there. Later other locations opened up – one in Unicity, one  in Portage Place, one in Polo Park. And then even later than that, the whole chain went down the tubes.

I don’t remember the name of the girl that was working at the dentist where I had my root canal in January of 1994, but she looked familiar. “Did you ever shop at Sam The Record Man?” she asked me. Surely. So that’s where she used to work. So, we got to talking... I just got a really good quality copy of Rainbow Bridge I told her..

This album is called Holy Cow The Best Of Lee Dorsey. It has 12 tracks, 7of which were top 100 singles. 2 top 100 singles are not included: This Old Car and Go Go Girl, both from 1967.

  •       Ya Ya – I don’t know a la la is or why you’d want to sit in one. I don’t know what a ya ya is or why you’d want to wait for one. But this piece of New Orleans rock and roll whimsy was Lee Dorsey’s first hit and was covered by John Lennon twice – first on his Walls And Bridges in a somewhat truncated rendition with his (then) young son Julian playing (awkward) drums, and then in a more fully realized version on Rock And Roll. And the song appeared on the same collection that had all those tracks by Tony Sheridan with The nascent Beatles, but Ya Ya on that album was performed by The Beat Brothers, whoever they were. From the fall of 1961.
  •          Do-Re-Mi - If Julie Andrews had been dead when this was released, she would have rolled over in her grave. This is New Orleans groove par excellence, subtle humour, great dance rhythm. The follow up hit to Ya Ya, early 1962. 
  •          People Gonna Talk – Some musings on human nature, with a great beat. B side of Do-Re-Mi. 
  •          Ride Your Pony – A song for dancing about dancing. The double entendres fly thick and fast; in fact the whole song is a double entendre. The great Alain Toussaint makes his mark, and Lee Dorsey’s career would never be the same again. From the summer of 1965. 
  •         Get Out Of My Life, Woman – It doesn’t get more straightforward than that. No teardrops or self-pity here (lyrics about same notwithstanding), just the facts. Covered, decently, by The Butterfield Blues Band on The Resurrection Of Pigboy Crabshaw. From the spring of 1966. 
  •          Can You Hear Me – Hard to tell exactly what’s going on here. It seems to be an exhortation to dance, but not only is Lee concerned about whether he is being heard, he is downright frustrated, evidenced by the repeated use of the epithet “dammit,” which would surely have kept this song off the radio back in 60-whatever, had any attempt been made to get it there, which surely there wasn’t.
  •          Holy Cow – Do people still use this expression? Is it politically correct? It’s a heartbreak song, but a fun one because it’s got a great New Orleans backbeat. A hit in the winter of ‘66 /’67. The last top 10 hit Dorsey would have, at least on Billboard. The Band covered this on Moondog Matinee.
  •         Working In The Coal Mine – How can you create a record that faithfully represents the misery and daily fatigue of exhausting relentless work, and at the same time is incredibly fun and has a great dance groove?  When Alain Toussaint died, the world lost a genius. A top 10 hit in the autumn of 1966.
  •          Love Lots Of Lovin’ – Boilerplate. I love the direct approach: “You know what I need, come on, give it to me.” This is duet with Betty Harris. 
  •         Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky – Based on this track I’d say he’s telling the truth. From the summer of ’69, Lee’s last hit.
  •         Sneakin’ Sally Through The Alley – Long Tall (aka bald headed) Sally, no doubt...
  •          Yes We Can  - A “let’s all get together and love each other” song, covered later and more famously by The Pointer Sisters, as Yes We Can Can. 

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