Bobby Charles – Bobby Charles: Deluxe Edition

January 01, 1970

(Rhino Handmade)


As a songwriter, Bobby Charles wrote some of the most
well-known tunes of rock ‘n’ roll’s baby years, including Bill Haley’s
“See You Later Alligator” and Fats Domino’s “Walking To New
Orleans” among many others. But it would not be until 1971 that the Louisiana native turned the pen on himself and his unique
“swamp pop” style of performance following a relocation to Woodstock, New
York, to record his eponymous debut as an artist for
Albert Grossman’s esteemed Bearsville Records label.


Upon his arrival to the rock capital of the Upstate region,
Charles made fast friends with townies Levon Helm, Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and
Richard Manuel of The Band. All four men played a crucial role in the creation
of 1972’s Bobby Charles, long
considered one of rock’s great lost albums and finally getting its just homage
in the form of this gorgeous three-disc deluxe edition from Rhino Handmade
after spending nearly 40 years obscured in the margins of rock’s back pages. Joining
Helm, Danko, Hudson and Manuel for these sessions were legendary session
guitarist Amos Garrett (quite possibly the only man connecting the dots between
Anne Murray, Martin Mull and Pearls Before Swine),  veteran Neil Young sideman Ben Keith on pedal
steel, future smooth jazz luminary David Sanborn on saxophone and fellow Louisiana
boy Dr. John on piano among others. And together, this priceless studio
supergroup provided the perfect balance of Cajun and Catskill with Bobby’s
seasoned twang leading the fray on such laid back Big Pink-esque cuts as “Long Face”, “He’s Got All
The Whiskey”, “Small Town Talk” and “Tennessee Blues”,
crafting a compound of country, R&B and roots rock that hits the soul like
a perfect crock of sonic gumbo.


This Handmade edition of Bobby
expands the original LP by 25 tracks, adding alternate versions of
several key album tracks, rare cuts like “New Mexico”,” Homemade
Songs” and “Rosie” that originally appeared on the out-of-print Bearsville Box Set and an entire album’s
worth of previously unreleased material culled from a scrapped 1974 session at
Bearsville Studio with Doors producer Paul Rothchild. Meanwhile, the third disc
is comprised of a revelatory half-hour radio interview with Charles conducted
by none other than Dr. Demento for his long-running show on Los Angeles’s KMET
shortly before the album’s release, where he talks up his Bearsville label mate
Todd Rundgren and offers a foreshadowing statement about his own record’s
“lost” status that would haunt the title throughout the majority of
the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s.


Bobby Charles led a predominantly reclusive life following
his memorable appearance at The Band’s Last Waltz farewell concert in 1976. In
between combating a number of personal disasters, including surviving Hurricane
Katrina and a cancer scare, he chose to quietly release a sporadic string of
up until his death following a collapse in his Abbeville, LA, home
on January 14, 2010. But if ever there was a testament to the palpable
footprint the quiet icon of New Orleans rock
left on the landscape of modern day Americana,
it is within the annals of this exceptionally issued collection.


DOWNLOAD: “Street People”, “Long Face”, “Small Town Talk”,
“Tennessee Blues”, “Save Me Jesus” (Single Version),
“He’s Got All The Whiskey” (Long Version), “Homemade
Songs”, “Better Days”, “Livin’ In Your World”,
“Nickles Dimes Dollars”, “Little Town Tramp” “Cowboys
and Indians” RON HART


Bobby Charles was
interviewed and profiled in BLURT in 2009. Go here to read the feature.



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