Shannon McNally – Small Town Talk (Songs Of Bobby Charles) (2013)

FrontCover1Here´s a wonderful tribute album to the great Bobby Charles:

Robert Charles Guidry (February 21, 1938 – January 14, 2010), known as Bobby Charles, was an American singer-songwriter.

An ethnic Cajun, Charles was born in Abbeville, Louisiana, and grew up listening to Cajun music and the country and western music of Hank Williams. At the age of 15, he heard a performance by Fats Domino, an event that “changed my life forever,” he recalled.

Charles helped to pioneer the south Louisiana musical genre known as swamp pop. His compositions include the hits “See You Later, Alligator”, which he initially recorded himself as “Later Alligator”, but which is best known from the cover version by Bill Haley & His Comets, and “Walking to New Orleans” and “It Keeps Rainin'”, written for Fats Domino.

“(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do” was an early 1960s song that Charles composed, which Clarence “Frogman” Henry had a major hit with, and which was on the soundtrack of the 1994 film Forrest Gump. His composition “Why Are People Like That?” was on the soundtrack of the 1998 film Home Fries.

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Because of his south Louisiana–influenced rhythm and blues vocal style, Charles has sometimes been thought to be black, when in fact he was white.

Charles was invited to play with the Band at their November 26, 1976, farewell concert, The Last Waltz, at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. In the concert, Charles played “Down South in New Orleans”, with the help of Dr. John and the Band. That song was recorded and released as part of the triple-LP The Last Waltz box set. The performance was also captured on film by director Martin Scorsese, but did not appear in the final, released theatrical version. Charles did, however, appear briefly in a segment of the released film—in the concert’s final song, “I Shall Be Released”. In that segment, his image is largely blocked from view during the performance. That song, sung by Bob Dylan and pianist Richard Manuel, featured backup vocals from the entire ensemble, including Charles.

He co-wrote the song “Small Town Talk” with Rick Danko of the Band. “Promises, Promises (The Truth Will Set You Free)” was co-written with Willie Nelson.

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Charles continued to compose and record (he was based out of Woodstock, New York, for a time) and in the 1990s he recorded a duet of “Walking to New Orleans” with Domino.

In September 2007, the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame honored Charles for his contributions to Louisiana music with an induction.
Death

Charles collapsed in his home near Abbeville and died on January 14, 2010. (by wikipedia)

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I don’t like to use the word perfection around music, because life’s beauty is often expressed with imperfection. But for lack of a better vocabulary I have to say this is about as perfect a record as I’ve ever heard. If you enjoy the New Orleans sound – casual and laid-back but at the same time never too casual in terms of musicianship – you may agree with me that this rates album of the year. The songs of Bobby Charles are extraordinary and his mastery has been celebrated for decades. The arrangements with production from Dr. John and Shannon McNally are spot-on, playful, intricate without being obvious, and ideal for these tunes.

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The musicianship, well it doesn’t get any better. Shannon McNally contributes a voice and interpretative gift that was born to sing these songs. Once in a blue moon somebody will make a record that perfectly encapsulates a mood and a feeling, where all the songs stack up just right. I’m thinking, for example, of Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks, Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue, the Stones Exile on Main Street. Small Town Talk does that as well as any record I’ve ever heard – including those just mentioned. This record won’t be for everyone’s taste, mind you. But for those with whom it resonates it might just break your heart, make you laugh, blow your mind, and touch your soul. They say the way to tell if a pot of rice is cooked is to test one grain. So I suggest you listen to a tune or two off of this album. If you like what you discover, you’ll likely love this record. (by Constant Traveler)

In spite of not attaining his initial goal of becoming a successful singer Bobby Charles leaves behind a really rich legacy of timeless pop songs which are still being recorded, and performed today. As a testament to this legacy, have a listen to Shannon McNally’s tribute album, Small Town Talk: (Songs of Bobby Charles) … you’ll love it!

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Personnel:
David Barard (bass)
Alonzo Bowens (saxophone)
Natalia Cascante (violin)
Herman V. Ernest III (drums, percussion)
John Fohl (guitar)
Helen Gillet (cello)
Harry Hardin (violin)
Lauren Lemmler (viola)
Shannon McNally (vocals, guitar on 06.)
Charlie Miller (flute, trumpet)
Jason Mingledorff (saxophone)
Mac Rebennack (keyboards, background vocals)
Ken “Afro” Williams (percussion)
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Luther Dickinson (guitar on 02.)
Vince Gill (vocals on 03., guiar on 10.)
Will Sexton (guitar on 06.)
Derek Trucks (guitar on 05.)
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The Lower 911 Band (background vocals)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Street People (Charles) 3.15
02. Can’t Pin A Color (Charles) 3.17
03. String Of Hearts (Charles) 3.53
04. I Spend All My Money (Charles) 2.55
05. Cowboys And Indians (Charles) 4.07
06. Homemade Songs (Charles) 4.11
07. Long Face (Charles) 3.24
08. Small Town Talk (Charles/Danko) 4.07
09. I Don’t Want To Know (Charles) 4.03
10. But I Do (Charles/Gayten) 4.08
11. Love In The Worst Degree (Charles) 3.07
12. Save Me Jesus (Charles) 3.38
13. Smile (So Glad) (Charles) 3.18
14. I Must Be In A Good Place Now (Charles) 3.37

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BobbyCharles

Robert Charles Guidry (February 21, 1938 – January 14, 2010)