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Thursday 10 April 2008

Lee Allen - Down On Bourbon Street

Many thanks to the anonymous donor who sent this compilation of Lee Allen sides recorded for Ember at 3 sessions between 1957 and 1959. The backing musicians include Alain Toussaint, Charles “Hungry” Williams and Alvin “Red” Tyler.

Lee Allen started out with the Paul Gayten Orchestra in the late 1940s and subsequently joined Dave Bartholomew’s band. But it is as leader of the studio band at Cosimo Matassa’s New Orleans recording studio that he will probably be best remembered. At Cosimo’s he featured on many R&B and Rock’n’Roll recording sessions with Little Richard, Fats Domino, Huey “Piano” Smith, Shirley & Lee, Lloyd Price, Smiley Lewis etc, etc.

In 1957 he signed on with Ember Records and recorded under his own name, issuing the substantial hit “Walkin’ With Mr Lee”. This LP was on the NoLa label, which I have to say I have never heard of. The liner notes are by John Broven.

But enough of the music. What about that LP cover? It is truly a monument to sleaze. And what tragic story lies behind the downfall of the lady reduced to dancing the hoochie coochie while twirling tassles for the delectation of an unruly mob of drunks? Ah well, at least she got to hear Lee Allen playing rambunctious rhythm ‘n’ blues and sly striptease jazz. Every cloud has a silver lining.

I must also extend a big thank you to Joan K who contributed scans of original Ember singles and an EP at very short notice. Joan you are awesome.

Ripped from vinyl at 192 kbps. Some surface noise audible. Password = greaseyspoon

Download and do the shimmy shimmy shake:

1. Promenade
2. Walkin' With Mr Lee
3. Tic Toc
4. Bee Hive
5. Chuggin'
6. Big Horn Special
7. Jim Jam
8. Strollin' With Mr Lee
9. Teen Dreams
10. Boppin' At The Hop
11. Lee's Blues
12. Hot Rod Special
13. Ivy League
14. Short Circuit Funky
15. Creole Alley
16. Cat Walk

Acrobat Records in the UK have recently released a 24 track CD of Lee Allen sides. If you liked this download, please spend some cash on the disc (Acrobat ACMCD4267):


Anonymous said...

This should bring back a lot of memories to radio listeners in the Philadelphia area. Joe "Rockin' Bird" Niagara used "Walking With Mr.Lee" as his theme on powerhouse WIBG-99.

Anonymous said...

I can't tell you how much this means to me. Wonderful offering. Thanks - d.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this Lee Allen ... Baron

Unknown said...

It's a UK release to start. And Wendy (the woman on to cover, who died two years ago) was not a stripper - she posed for a bunch of Lee Allen pictures at that time. Further "sleaze" can be found on the CD version which is released through the LaFitte. NoLa records was a Tom Stagg label which produced 26 albums.

boogiewoody said...

Thanks for the info Erica. I spotted another copy of this LP in a 2nd hand record shop here in Glasgow a couple of months ago. I might go back to check it out.

Thanks for the background story of the lady on the cover. Her outfit reminded me of a song I heard at a folk concert many years ago. I think it was called "The Razzle Dazzle Tassel Dance" or something like that. Thank goodness the late Wendy was merely modelling and hadn't sunk to the depths which I had imagined.

Have you any info on what else was released on the NoLa label? This is still the only NoLa LP I've come across.