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 Charles 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 recordings 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


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

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