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Friday, February 15, 2013

Champion Jack Dupree: I want all you folks to gather around this jukebox . . .

In 1956 Jack packed up his piano and moved over to RCA subsidiary Groove/Vik, where he continued to rack up the classic 7" platters.  His only 45 on Groove was a sequel to "Walkin' the Blues".  This time Jack is joined on his walk - and his retreat from mother-in-laws* - with Teddy "Mr. Bear" McRae, I guess figuring with Mr. Bear's radar they'll remain undetected as they clip and clop.

Dupree's guitarists for his Groove/Vik recordings are Mickey Baker and Larry Dale (who, under his real name, Ennis Lowrey, would play a key role in Dupree's next LP (post coming Monday!)).  Only the recordings with Dale got issued on 45, although there is very strong material from some sessions with Baker as well.  Dupree and Baker also backed Dale up on some great Groove records - that label kept it in the family.

Everything that CJD cut for Vik and Groove is available, for those of us who like it flat and round, on the excellent Charly LP Shake Baby Shake, which has a whopping 16 previously unreleased tunes from various Dupree sessions and is a solid winner of a purchase even if you don't normally sweat such stuff as (shudder) LPs or (shriek) reissues.

Lotsa killer, some filler
The Vik/Groove recordings basically build on the King formula, with slightly better production values (they were now working for a major label that cared about fidelity, as opposed to, oh, King) and a slight nod in to the teen market. There are some weird ones in the unreleased tunes, including the wild, echoey "Wrong Woman" and a vocal duet with Baker, "Women Trouble Again". Both have killer breaks. Beware, though, the fade on "Women Trouble" makes for a real tease.

Thanks, 9th Ward Jukebox!

There's even some unusual material on the real 45s - "Lollipop Baby", for instance, with its Mule Train cries, yakety sax and the clickety-clack square dancey beat is almost country. Dupree acknowledges this on an alternate vocal version of this song, which is not about lollipops but does advise the listener to change partners. I think the lollipop thing was one of those teen concessions I was talking about earlier.

if youtube ever takes you out I'ma have to entirely redo this month!

But the best cut that CJD laid down for Vik/Groove, and my choice for either tie or winner-by-a-nose in the #1 CJD dance floor killer 45 is a song so wild and profound that Bob Seger should wake up every morning and apologize to it for forever desecrating its name, "Old Time Rock and Roll".  

Let's get with it!

The song itself is a variation on "Pinetop's Boogie". He first cut it as "Johnson Street Boogie Woogie" for Joe Davis in 1945, and would return to it several times throughout his career. But nothing quite compares to this.The very notion that there was such a thing as "old time rock and roll" in 1957 must have seemed odd, but as Jack explains at the outset, "We've been doing this since 1929. But the disc jockeys and the teenagers just heard it!"

This hard, real truth is quickly abandoned for one of the most surreal, confusing instructional dance record (a la the Madison) I've ever heard.*  CJD tells you he's going to give you the instruction, and what to do when you get it, but he never actually gives the command!  We're supposed to say stop when he says hold it, rock and roll when he says rock and roll, but he never bothers to say either. I guess he figured if the girl in the white socks couldn't handle it she didn't deserve to either rock and roll OR to hold it.*  

Whereas "Shim Sham Shimmy" gains most of its power from its guitars, "Old Time" is all about the drums, the piano and the crazy stuff Jack is saying. And Gene Moore's drums. The drummers on all of Jack's Vik recordings is either Willie Jones or Gene Moore, and even more than the guitar players they are the secondary stars of the sessions.

And just because I can't quit, here's a couple of Larry Dale solo cuts, backed by Dupree and Mickey Baker.  Both were unissued by Groove in the 50s.  Enjoy.


*A few words about Dupree and mother-in-laws.  Nobody this side of Ernie K-Doe made more musical hay about the notion of the bossy, fear-inducing mother-in-law than Jack Dupree. I was going to, at one point, post a compendium of every Dupree track that mentioned his mother-in-law troubles, but I gave it up.  As they say in bad e-Bay/Craig's List record lot auctions, "too many to list." Anyway, considering that Jack was on mother-in-law rants since way back in the 40s and K-Doe didn't have his hit 'til '61, I think it's safe to say that's yet another way he had a profound influence on New Orleans music. 

* Then again, I can't do the "Clapping Song" so maybe I am just instructionally challenged. 

*To continue with the theme of Jack's left hand, the break he throws down right after he says "Last time now" is one of his most thrillingly chaotic.

*word to the wise - even though these cuts were not issued originally (they do appear on the Charly LP Still Groove Jumping), Jazzman released the above cuts as a 45 as a part of their Jukebox Jam series.