Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Jesse Allen - Rockin' and Rollin'

Side A
1. What A Party
2. Rockin' And Rollin'
3. I Love You So
4. I Wonder What's The Matter
5. The Things I Gonna Do
6. Sittin' And Wonderin'

Side B
1. Boogie Woogie Mama
2. Shake 'em Up Baby
3. Rock This Morning
4. Gonna Move Away From Town
5. Gotta Call That Number
6. Gonna Tell My Mama

Many thanks to Big Al (The Bloggers’ Pal!) for sending in this 1980s Pathe Marconi compilation of Aladdin and Imperial sides recorded in New Orleans by singer / guitarist Jesse Allen between 1951 and 1954.

No-one seems to know where Jesse Allen came from. The sleeve notes on this album have fellow musicians speculating that he came from Florida or Georgia or Alabama or Mississippi, while John Broven in his book “Rhythm & Blues in New Orleans” refers to “Texas-styled blues shouter, Jesse Allen.” But wherever he came from, he established himself on the New Orleans scene at the beginning of the 1950s, making his recording debut for Aladdin in October 1951 at a session which was the first to be held by the Mesner brothers in the Crescent City.

Four tracks were cut with two being released on Aladdin 3129 – “Rock This Morning” b/w “Gonna Move Away From Town.” The former track is a good relaxed swingin’ jump tune while the latter is a decent slow blues with some nice guitar work by Allen. Two sides from this session were unissued: “Boogie Woogie Mama” in which Allen sounds like Roy Brown, and “Shake ‘em Up Baby” (previously recorded by Roy Brown) in which Allen seems to try too hard not to sound like Roy Brown.

Jesse’s next session came in December 1951 for Coral, with two sides “My Suffering” and “Let’s Party” being released as a single. In 1952 he recorded for the Bayou subsidiary of Imperial, releasing what may have been his most successful record, “Dragnet.”

None of his Coral and Bayou sides are on this LP, so we move onward to August 1953 when Jesse made his debut for Imperial, recording a couple of duets with chantoozie Audrey Walker whose warblings come under the heading of “acquired taste.” A single (Imperial 5256) was released, with the duo sounding like Little Esther and Mel Walker on “Gotta Call That Number” and veering more towards Shirley and Lee on “Gonna Tell My Mama.”

Time marches on, and back in the 1950s it marched on too, and as Jesse's records weren’t selling, it was time to call in the heavy hitters. In early 1954 Jesse Allen entered the studio with New Orleans legends Lee Allen, Alvin “Red” Tyler, Edward Frank, Frank Fields and Earl Palmer to cut four sides which were released on Imperial singles 5303 and 5285. The first single was an excellent rocker, “What a Party” b/w a blatant rip-off of Guitar Slim’s “The Things I Used To Do” titled “”The Things I Gonna Do.” Despite the obvious plagiarism, “Things” was a fine performance with Jesse serving up some nice guitar runs set against riffing saxes. Come to think of it, there was more than a hint of “Money Honey” about “What A Party” but Lee Allen’s booting sax gave it a distinctive sound and made it a real tough piece of rock 'n' roll.

By now it was becoming clear that a certain lack of originality was an obstacle to Jesse’s hit record ambitions. Imperial 5285 featured another rip-off, for “Sittin’ And Wonderin’” was simply a rehash of Lloyd Prices’ “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” or if you were being kind it was an answer record, only about two years too late. The other side of the disc, “I Wonder What’s The Matter,” was a good slow blues with the usual fine guitar work from Jesse.

In September 1954 Jesse cut his final sides for Imperial. “Rockin’ And Rollin’” was simply “Rock Me Baby” with a new title and this time round Jesse’s voice sounded like a slightly less strident than usual Big Joe Turner. The other side of the disc (Imperial 5315), “I Love You So,” had that great rolling New Orleans rhythm, but Jesse’s vocals featured a few bum notes.

Obscurity was beckoning, but there was still time for a couple more records. Three or four years after his last Imperial session, Jesse was reunited with Lee Allen and Red Tyler for a session for Johnny Vincent’s Vin label. One single was the result – “Baby Say You Will” b/w “Goodbye Blues” (Vin 1002). In 1959 Jesse made his first recording session outside of New Orleans, for Jimmy Liggins’ Duplex label in Fayetteville. “Love My Baby” b/w “After A While” was released on Duplex 9003. The great record buying public could hardly contain its indifference.

And so it was all over and Jesse, we may speculate, returned whence he came. Or perhaps he went somewhere else. Who knows? Yet wherever he was he could reflect that he had made some good records and had performed with the finest musicians in New Orleans. And a quarter of a century later a French record company thought his work was good enough to release on an LP, and another quarter of a century further on down the road here we all are listening to his work again. Not a bad epitaph.

Ripped from vinyl at 320 kbps by Big Al. Password = greaseyspoon

Download from here:

http://rapidshare.com/files/391544826/Jesse_Allen_Rockin__and_Rollin_.rar

2. Rockin' And Rollin'
3. I Love You So
4. I Wonder What's The Matter
5. The Things I Gonna Do
6. Sittin' And Wonderin'
7. Boogie Woogie Mama
8. Shake 'em Up Baby
9. Rock This Morning
10. Gonna Move Away From Town
11. Gotta Call That Number
12. Gonna Tell My Mama

Recommended purchases:

The Official CD "Little Walkin' Willie Meets Jesse Allen" has twenty tracks by Jesse, covering just about everything he ever released. Wild isn't the word for the six Little Walkin' Willie tracks on this collection. Simply astonishing stuff.

The UK Ace label LP “Jumpin’ The Blues, Volume 3” featured Jesse’s Coral side “Let’s Party,” which is a good jump blues. Keep crate digging for you never know, it may turn up when you least expect it.

You might have a better chance of turning up a copy of the long out of print Westside CD “Tuff Enuff, The Ace Blues Masters, Vol 3.” It has both sides of Jesse’s Vin single. Alternatively, you can download the comp from Amazon’s UK mp3 store. “Baby Say You Will” is a meandering performance which loses its way several times. “Goodbye Blues” is a much better track, being a rousing rocker with lots of blues guitar and riffing horns. A good vocal from Jesse, too.

“Love My Baby” from Jesse’s Duplex single is on the CD “Stompin’ 4.” The Stompin’ series of CDs has more than thirty volumes of the rarest, most obscure R&B records ever recorded. A labour of love and a work of genius. “Love My Baby” is a raw and primitive blues guitar blaster with shouted vocals and little trace of the New Orleans sound. A fine note on which to end a post.

7 comments:

RecordCollector said...

And he has done it again! Another wonderful post. Thanks!!!

Anonymous said...

VERY nice record sleeve.
Thank you for this one. I have several Fats Domino LPs from the same source with similar covers. Come to think of it I also have some Huey Smith with also the same sort of covers. Notwhitstanding, the music from this bunch of guys is just so GOOD.
Thanks, ralph11

boogiewoody said...

I love that record sleeve too. Pathe Marconi did a stand up job with the design which, as you point out, fits right in with the covers of the LPs Imperial were releasing back in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The old Be Bop Wino blog used to have an Imperial LP sent in by Joan which was similar in look. Now I must get round to re-posting that one ...

Gyro1966 said...

Great LP, thanks!

Jon said...

This is great. Thank you.

Francis said...

Thak you ! C' est un superbe album, Bravo pour votre blog!

boogiewoody said...

Merci bien, Francis!