Bobby Parker "Soul Of The Blues" (Rhythm And Blues Records RANDB060)
By Sir Shambling
Emeralds – Sally Lou; Emeralds – Why Must I Wonder; Bo Diddley – I’m Looking For A Woman; Bobby Parker w/ Paul Williams – Titanic; Bobby Parker w/ Paul Williams Once Upon A Time Long Ago Last Night; Bobby Parker w/ Paul Williams – Suggie Duggie Boogie Baby; Bobby Parker w/ Paul Williams – Up Up Up; Bobby Parker – Blues Get Off My Shoulder; Bobby Parker – You Got What It Takes; Bobby Parker – Foolish Love; Bobby Parker – Stop By My House; Bobby Parker – Watch Your Step; Bobby Parker – Steal Your Heart Away; Bobby Parker w/ Harry Lewis – Night Stroll Pt 2; Henry Curtis – I Got The Blues So Bad; Bobby Parker – It’s Too Late Darling; Bobby Parker – Get Right; Bobby Parker – Gimme Some Lovin’; Bobby Parker – Do The Monkey; Bobby Parker – Don’t Drive Me Away; Bobby Parker – Keep Away From My Heart; Little Bobby Parker – I Won’t Believe It Till I See It; Bobby Parker – It’s Hard But It’s Fair; Bobby Parker – I Couldn’t Quit My Baby; Nat Hall – You Don’t Know (Just How I Feel); Nat Hall – Money You Never Get Tired Of; Bobby Parker w/ Billy Clark – Hot Gravy; Bobby Parker w/ Billy Clark – In Be Tween; Billy Clark w/ Soul Party Pt 2; Lucille Brown & Billy Clark – Both Eyes Open.
Bobby Parker – Born Under A Bad Sign; Bobby Parker – Everyday I Have The Blues; Bobby Parker – Bent Out Of Shape; Bobby Parker – I Call Her Baby; Bobby Parker – Break It Up; Bobby Parker – Bobby A-Go-Go; Bobby Parker w/ The Maskman – Chicken Wings; Bobby Parker – Watch Your Step (alt); Bobby Parker w/ Paul Williams – Suggie Duggie Boogie Baby (alt); Wee Wiilie Mason & Billy Clark – There She Blows; Nat Hall – Talkkin’ About Love; Nat Hall – Why; Billy Clark w/ The Maskman – Soul Party Pt 1; Sonny Stevenson – Night Stroll Pt 1; Wee Willie Mason – Funky Funky (Hot Pants; Bo Diddley – Bo Diddley; Bo Diddley – Diddy Wah Diddy; Bo Diddley – Dancing Girl; Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams – Pass The Buck; Paul “Hucklebuck” Williams – Give It Up; Noble “Thin Man” Watts w/ Paul Williams – Big Two Four; Noble “Thin Man” Watts w/ Paul Williams – South Shore Drive.
For years it seemed as though there would never be a collection of the wonderful singer / guitarist Bobby Parker’s early singles. And yet thanks to the joint efforts of Parker aficionado / expert Martin Newman and History Of Soul’s Nick Duckett the “Soul Of The Blues” CD has arrived. And what a joy it is. The double CD set includes not only every one of Bobby’s far too few name releases but also all his activities as a sideman on any number of other artists’ recordings.
Parker has many admirers as a first class blues musician whose axe work has inspired so many other players – especially from the white blues-rock fraternity. His R & B soul fans are perhaps less numerous but equally fanatical – and I certainly number myself among them. And I’m also a big enthusiast of his vocal ability too. Something that tends to get overlooked too often.
“Soul Of The Blues” commences Bobby’s discs with his first recordings as a member of the Emeralds on Kicks from 1954, and via his two outings with the Paul Williams Band on Josie, moves onto 45s for Vee Jay and Armada in the later 50s. The Vee Jay “Blues Get Off My Shoulders” is a superb minor keyed effort on which his stinging guitar work is beautifully concise and his tenor vocals really strong and gospel tinged. His first 60s release was the unmissable thundering “Watch Your Step” with the riff that launched a thousand UK mod imitators. But when I listen to this track that thing that really excites me is Parker’s wild howling vocal – fierce and rock hard especially in his falsetto phrases.
His next recording was the absolutely stunning “It’s Too Late Darling” for Sabu in 1963 – a really rare biscuit and no mistake and one of the deepest tracks cut in that year. And one that I get so many requests for. For me his best ever cut. It was followed by the uptempo R & B of “Gimme Good Lovin’” on Southern Sound and his excellent blues ballad “Don’t Drive Me Away” on Frisky, another particular favourite of mine. The funky Blue Horizon “It’s Hard But It’s Fair” was recorded on a trip to the UK at the end of the 60s and that was to be the end of his recorded output from the Golden Age.
But this CD set includes so many other goodies. For example there are Parker’s work for artists that I have covered in this website like the fine Willie Mason and Billy Clark, as well as others like Lucille Brown, the eccentric Maskman and the interesting singer Nat Hall. His forgotten pieces for Bo Diddley are also on here as is Noble “Thin Man” Watts and the unknown Henry Curtis on Spar.
Perhaps the most interesting of these extras though, is the inclusion of tracks from a 1995 concert that Bobby gave as part of his unhappy time under contract to Black Top in the 1990s.
All in all the 52 tracks here are a veritable treasure trove of wonderful music. And the presentation of the CD set is superb with a sumptuous booklet full of historic pictures and an exhaustive and illuminating essay from Martin Newman. And the cherry on the cake is the fact that even though Bobby passed away in 2010, Parker’s family will benefit to the tune of 50% of the profits of every sale.
I can’t recommend this CD set strongly enough. The definitive Bobby Parker is a dream come true for fans like me – this is the best reissue CD of 2020 for sure. Don’t you dare miss it!