New Orleans, LA, June 29, 2008 --(PR.com
)-- From Rice ‘N’ Gravy Records, Bogalusa, LA:
“My old buddy, Robert Charles Guidry, was better known as Bobby Charles, and he was more successful as a songwriter than a singer, and it’s a sin; cause he’s a hell of a singer. He’s got one of the most melodious voices ever transferred to a piece of vinyl.” - Bob Dylan
It is all but impossible to imagine the evolution of modern American roots music, without acknowledging the quintessential contribution of singer/ songwriter Bobby Charles.
His anecdotes are priceless.
“I was 15 before I ever heard the word ‘mother......,’” Bobby recalls with the glee of having just experienced the moment. “I got off the plane in Chicago from the Louisiana bayou, to meet Phil Chess, the brother and associate of my new employer, Leonard Chess. That was Phil’s first word when he saw me! ‘Man, I didn’t know you were white,’ he said, and I knew it was the first time he met a full-blooded Cajun.” Bobby joined brothers Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Bo Diddley and Willie Dixon, and sister Etta James, on the Chess Records roster. Out of the gate, he wrote and recorded a little ditty called “See You Later Alligator,” soon a monster pop hit for Bill Haley and the Comets. In 1960, Bobby penned “Walking to New Orleans” for Fats Domino, followed by “(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do,” recorded by Clarence “Frogman” Henry a year later.
“Walking to New Orleans” has been a landmark Crescent City exponent for five decades, most recently as the theme for Spike Lee’s heartbreaking “requiem” to Hurricane Katrina, “When the Levees Broke.”
Now comes “Homemade Songs,” Bobby Charles’ triumphant new recording, released on Rice ‘N’ Gravy Records (distributed by Select-O-Hits), June 24, 2008. Produced by Bobby Charles, Jim Bateman and Ben Keith (the same team who co-produced 2004’s “Last Train To Memphis”), Rolling Stone calls it a collection of “15 swampy soulful tracks, (with) Charles’ songwriting (taking) center stage.” All songs are written by Bobby (with four, co-written).
Bobby’s “Queen Bee,” a sultry, lowdown blues, was recorded with a core band that includes fellow Louisianian and slide and blues guitar great Sonny Landreth, Phil Chandler on piano, David Hyde on bass, Chris LeBlanc on acoustic guitar and David Peters on drums. Bobby says, “I just knew Muddy would have recorded this one, if he were still alive.” Here, Bobby invigorates the ilk like never before.
Wow - a welcome surprise to hear Bobby’s jazz-revamped “But I Do.” Taking the chairs on this cut are Joe Allen on bass, Charles Cochran on piano, Mike Elliott on guitar and Kenny Malone on percussion, backing Bobby’s smooth, in-the-pocket vocals. This one really swings, in all its legendary glory, a sure bet for a new Bobby Charles genre: jazz radio.
“Cowboys and Indians” (co-written with Ben Keith) is a Dylanesque mix of Louisiana and Texas musical sensibilities, spotlighting Bobby’s organic focus on Americana themes. When Fats Domino heard the song, he called out to Bobby, “Now, that’s gospel!”
Continuing a topical theme is Bobby’s anthemic “The Truth Will Set You Free (Promises, Promises),” co-written with Willie Nelson. Dr. John’s acclaimed, new recording, “City That Care Forgot,” includes the song, plus four others co-written by Bobby, including “Black Gold,” an indictment of oil greed. “Mac called me and said, ‘How do we write a song about oil?,’ and I said, ‘Man, we call it black gold.’” New York Times critic Jon Pareles quotes Dr. John: “Bobby hits your nerves good. That’s one of his fortes: he can go straight for the jugular. I could give Bobby some words or a thought, and within an hour it’s finished.”
“Too Blue” has a terrific old-timey feel, with a swamp-funk production, supporting Bobby’s bluesy vocals. Again, Dr. John helps a brother with that singularly reliable New Orleans piano style. They are magical, mutual fans.
“Here I Go Again” is an example of Bobby’s emotional elegance. Ace harpist Mickey Raphael adds to the beauty (as he does on three other tracks). Spooner Oldham lends full body on organ (and on two additional cuts).
Like Fats Domino, Bobby lost his home to a hurricane. It was Rita that hit Bobby, who previously lost a home to a fire. Thankfully, he’s relocated, but it’s another profound reminder that Bobby Charles is integrally woven in the richly complex, life-affirming and mystical tapestry that is Louisiana.
Born Robert Charles Guidry in Abbeville, Louisiana, Bobby Charles was inducted into The Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 2007. It’s just possible that nobody’s ever written a better pop song. And, it’s possible that other Hall of Fame will catch on. As another poet laureate (Leonard Cohen) puts it: “Ring the bells that still can ring!”
- Karen Johnson
KJPR Publicity & Artist Relations