Louisiana R & B vocalist Margo White made her first recordings for George Khoury who ran his eponymous label from his Lake Charles base. I had the pleasure of buying Margo’s 45 from George himself in 1973, and although “Johnny’s Coming Home” is lively enough, Down By The Sea is a cracking piece of swamp pop – not surprising as the backing band are the incomparable Cookie & The Cupcakes. The song itself is very much a retread of Khoury’s biggest seller “Sea Of Love” but Margo was at least as accomplished a vocalist as Phil Phillips and perhaps should have had more success with her track.
For her next release Margo was backed by another superb Louisiana aggregation, Clint West’s Boogie Kings, and her rocking version of Irma Thomas’ great stop/go sexy “Don’t Mess With My Man” was a very good regional seller for Floyd Soileau’s Ville Platte based Jin records. I actually prefer the downbeat You Had Your Chance with those droning saxes forming a great backdrop to Margo’s desperation – is it early soul or a classic Louisiana ballad? Both I guess.
Margo’s follow-up was her take on Bobby Bland’s evergreen “I’m Not Ashamed” but the style was just too similar to her hit to match her previous sales figures. For the rest of her recording career Margo fell into the hands of the appalling Huey Meaux who produced a couple of 45s on her and, as part of the slew of album releases he put out in the later 70s, an LP. The first of Margo’s Houston sessions coupled the ballad “I’ve Got A Right To Lose My Mind” which is spoilt by a very intrusive chorus, with the charming and very catchy “If Only You Were Here”. This sounds a lot like the sort of groove that Irma Thomas was getting into in New Orleans, and I like it very much.
Margo’s final single was another good one. “I’m A Lover Not A Fighter” was a fine version of Lazy Lester’s local hit, and the bouncy “Pick Me Up On Your Way Down” complemented it well. Most of Meaux’s titles were included on the “I’ve Got A Right To Change My Mind” LP which also included a couple of really good deep soul tracks. Sometimes has a fine melody and classic southern soul feel and arrangement, although a purist might have asked for the guitar to be mixed down a little and the horns raised a little higher. Win My Love And Break My Heart has Margo’s best performance in my view, a lovely sultry tone with some well phrased lines. The honky tonk piano is tasty too.
Although the album was released in the late 70s all the tracks were cut a at least a decade before, and by then Margo White was no longer active in the music business.
UPDATE ~ My great freind Michel Lyon writes with the info that Margot's real name is "Marguerite White" - I'm very grateful to Michel as always.
Down by the sea / Johnny’s coming home ~ KHOURY’S 729 (1961)
You had your chance / Don’t mess with my man ~ JIN 178 (1962)
I’m not ashamed / With all of my heart ~ JIN 180 (1963)
I’ve got a right to lose my mind / If only you were here ~ TEAR DROP 3043 / JIN 187 (1963)
I’m a lover not a fighter / Pick me up on your way down ~ JETSTREAM 740 (1966)
I’ve got a right to change my mind ~ CRAZY CAJUN 1062 (1978)