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Sunday, 10 June 2018

Bobby Charles - Chess Masters

Side 1:
01. Watch It Sprocket
02. Yea Yea Baby
03. Don't You Know I Love You
04. Good Loving
05. I'd Like To Know
06. Ain't Got No Home
07. Time Will Tell
08. Take It Easy Greasy
09. You Can Suit Yourself

Side 2:
01. Later Alligator
02. On Bended Knee
03. I'll Turn Square For You
04. No More (I Ain't Gonna Love You No More)
05. Put Your Arms Around Me Honey
06. Lonely Street
07. Mr Moon
08. One Eyed Jack
09. Hey Good Looking

Another revival of an LP originally posted in 2010 and as usual there are new cover and label scans and added information. New material will appear soon on the blog as I have finally purchased a new turntable.

Robert Charles Guidry was born in Abbeville, Louisiana, on 21st February 1938. His earliest musical influences were country and cajun, but he veered towards R&B when he heard Fats Domino on the radio. His songwriting abilities overshadowed his performing abilities, although his slightly flat laconic vocal delivery set the tone for a style which was to become known as swamp pop. One of his early compositions "Later Alligator" went down a storm at his gigs with backing band The Cardinals, so much so that a Crowley record store owner contacted Leonard Chess who signed Charles on the strength of hearing him sing over the telephone.

Bobby's first session for Chess (backed by The Cardinals) took place in New Orleans in October 1955 with "Later Alligator,"along with the ballad "On Bended Knee" as B-Side, being issued in November 1955. The A-Side, which was based on a Guitar Slim number "Later For You Baby," quickly attracted the attention of major record company Decca who had Bill Haley record a version in December 1955. "See You Later Alligator" as the Haley version was titled, stormed the pop charts in January 1956, completely eclipsing the Charles original.

Bobby Charles continued to record for Chess until May, 1958, then for Imperial from July 1958 to November 1960, then a brief return to Chess in March 1961. He had a total of seven singles released on Chess, none of which sold much despite being mostly well crafted R&B /Rock and Roll with strong backing by top New Orleans musicians under the supervision of Paul Gayten. However, it was as a songwriter that Bobby Charles had most impact, writing classic hits for other artists such as "Walking To New Orleans," (Fats Domino) "Before I Grow Too Old," (Tommy McLain) and "But I Do" (Clarence Henry). He continued to write, perform and record into the 21st century and was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall Of Fame in 2007. He died on the 14th January, 2010.

This Chess Masters compilation from 1977 has the "rough and ready" feel that many other issues in the series also had. The choice of tracks is slightly odd as Bobby Charles had a total of 14 sides released on Chess singles yet some have been omitted in favour of previously unreleased tracks. A false start is included on "Bended Knee" which seems rather superfluous. The sound quality on some tracks is also a little muddy or distorted but in spite of the drawbacks this is an entertaining and enjoyable collection, with its unruly feel providing a certain attraction.

Full details of the tracks are listed below.

01. Watch It Sprocket - unissued
02. Yea Yea Baby - Chess 1670
03. Don't You Know I Love You - Chess 1617
04. Good Loving - unissued
05. I'd Like To Know - unissued
06. Ain't Got No Home - unissued
07. Time Will Tell - Chess 1628
08. Take It Easy Greasy - Chess 1628
09. You Can Suit Yourself - Chess 1658
10. Later Alligator - Chess 1609
11. On Bended Knee (+ false start) - Chess 1609
12. I'll Turn Square For You - unissued
13. No More (I Ain't Gonna Love You No More) - Chess 1658
14. Put Your Arms Around Me Honey - Chess 1647
15. Lonely Street - unissued
16. Mr Moon - unissued
17. One Eyed Jack - Chess 1670
18. Hey Good Looking - unissued

Bobby Charles singles on Chess with release dates. Titles in italics are not on this compilation. Information from and

Chess 1609 - Later Alligator / On Bended Knee - November 1955
Chess 1617 - Why Did You Leave / Don't You Know I Love You - March 1956
Chess 1628 - Time Will Tell / Take It Easy Greasy - July 1956
Chess 1638 - Laura Lee / No Use Knocking - October 1956
Chess 1647 - Why Can't You / Put Your Arms Around Me Honey - January 1957
Chess 1658 - No More (I Ain't Gonna Love You No More) / You Can Suit Yourself - May 1957
Chess 1670 - One Eyed Jack / Yea Yea Baby - September 1957

The sessions:

Later Alligator; On Bended Knee; recorded in New Orleans in October 1955. Personnel: Bobby Charles (vocal) with The Cardinals - Harry Simontaux, Raoul Prado, Carlo Marino (saxes); Ed LeBlanc (piano); Larry Guidry (guitar); unknown (bass); Kenneth Theriot (drums).

Watch It Sprocket; Don't You Know I Love You; recorded in Chicago in January 1956. Personnel: Bobby Charles (vocal) with: Harold Ashby (tenor sax); Harold Burrage (piano); Jody Williams (guitar); Willie Dixon (bass); Billy Stepney (drums).

Ain't Got No Home; Time Will Tell; Take It Easy Greasy; recorded in New Orleans in March 1956. Personnel: Bobby Charles (vocal) with: Lee Allen (tenor sax); Red Tyler (baritone sax); Edward Frank (piano); Edgar Blanchard (guitar); Frank Fields (bass); Charles "Hungry" Williams (drums).

You Can Suit Yourself recorded in New Orleans on 28th August 1956. Personnel same as March 1956 session.

Put Your Arms Around Me Honey; Lonely Street; Mr. Moon; I'll Turn Square For You; I Ain't Gonna Do It No More; recorded in New Orleans in December 1956. Personnel: same as on March and August 1956 sessions. Baritone sax out on I Ain't Gonna Do It No More.

One Eyed Jack; Yea Yea Baby; recorded in New Orleans circa June 1957. Personnel: Bobby Charles (vocal) with unknown instrumental accompaniment and vocal group.

Good Loving recorded in New Orleans circa May 1958. Personnel: Bobby Charles (vocal) with: James Rivers (tenor sax); Red Tyler (baritone sax); Warren Myles (piano); Edgar Blanchard,
Justin Adams (guitars); Placide Adams (bass); Walter Lastie (drums).

Hey, Good Looking; I'd Like To Know - recorded probably in Chicago, March 1961. Personnel: Bobby Charles (vocal) with unknown sax, piano, guitar, bass and drums. Unknown vocal group on "I'd Like To Know."


Anonymous said...

There's something wonderful about this collection. It lands between R&B and Rockabilly on a lot of tracks and while Bobby's voice isn't perfect, I never get tired of this record. Thanks for spreading the word, and I grabbed it in case your digital copy is better than mine. Much appreciated--and great blog! - Stinky

boogiewoody said...

Cheers, Stinky. Yeah listening to this and reading John Broven's "Rhythm & Blues In New Orleans" and Shane Bernard's "Swamp Pop" has reawoken my interest in all the musics of the Deep South - R&B, Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp Pop, Rockabilly. Hope the copy here is OK.


Daddy Cool said...

If memory serves me right the Cardinals had changed their name to The Clippers before Bobby's first session.
“Hey Good Looking” and “I'd Like To Know” both come from his Chess session in March 1961 – musicians unknown but may well be Mac Rebennack's band.
I should round up all his early trax and do myself a chronological HMC and get my head around musicians. Will check over your previous post when I have time - doing a single artist is much easier!
I look forward to more of the Big Easy sound.

Anonymous said...

Hi, B-W !
just minute ago I tried to give my thanks about
the post of P.Gayten - Creole Gal. There was something
strange in the point where commentor
proves not being a robot. The thing didn't open
at all - it was stuck. Perhaps that is the reason
why there hasn'y been any comments so far under that post?
(I just thought that I mention it).
- Jay from the North.

boogiewoody said...

Hi Daddy Cool - I should have looked further down the page of Bruyninckx as "I'd Like To Know" is listed under the 1961 Chess session. Musicians and vocal group unknown. He lists "Hey Good Looking" under the 1955 session, though, but he can be occasionally unreliable. Have you got a reliable Chess discography? I'll give it a listen, anyway.


boogiewoody said...

Hi Daddy Cool - I've changed the post to put both "Hey Good Looking" and "I'd Like To Know" into the 1961 session. Looked up Shane Bernard's "Swamp Pop" which has a reference to The Cardinals becoming The Clippers but doesn't say when. He refers to them as The Cardinals when writing about the 1955 session, but that could be a slip. I've also changed the main text of the post slightly to include Bobby's shift to Imperial and then return to Chess. Nice to know you've got my back, Jack!

Hi Jay - I tested the comment facility on "Creole Gal" and it worked for me OK. I used Firefox as I've had tremendous trouble with Chrome since I installed a Windows 10 update yesterday.


Rev. bIGhIG said...

Mr. B. Woody - great stuff from Bobby Charles. Had him on my want-list for a long time.

boogiewoody said...

Glad to be of service to the clergy, Rev, although I fear that listening to wicked rock and roll may prevent you from going about the Lord's work.