I will not be able to fully shake New Orleans music until after Mardi Gras (even then it’s doubtful), and yesterday was a case in point. The above record collects the highlights of New Orleans’ Frisco Records. While not really a match for Ron, Ric, Instant, AFO, and other local r&b/soul labels of the Sixties, it did produce at least one undeniably classic single: Danny White’s pull-out-the-stops weeper, “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye.” Listening to that track yesterday led to two mysteries. One: there is no available YouTube video for it (nor for another arguably classic Frisco hit, The Rouzan Sisters’ always-relevant “Men of War”–though if you’re patient, you can hear Wanda sing it here). Is there some lawsuit in play? Every time something like this happens, I hear my students claiming, “Mr. O, everything streams, man!” and recall Roger Price’s axiom: “If everyone doesn’t want it, nobody gets it.” Which leads us to Mystery Two. Why would you “want this”? That’s not the mystery: White fucking sells the song in a very, very convincing soulful plea, sounding like he’s sweating in a lone spotlight on an otherwise darkened stage, in front of an utterly silenced audience. It will remind you of a time when someone kissed your tomorrow goodbye. The mystery is, who the hell is Irving Bannister, the guitar player who strings barbed wire around White’s corpus to keep him from trying to stop the unfolding tragedy? I’ve seldom heard more majestic, lacerating playing on a soul ballad.
Anyone who can solve those mysteries for me, please get in touch. In the meantime, as a teaser, here’s White other local hit on Frisco, which is a far cry from “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye, but strangely we have a video for it:
This album should be in every American home. Absolutely classic and infectious NOLA jazz from right after WWII, featuring master musicians (Dodds, Danny Barker, Albert Nicholas, Don Ewell, James P. Johnson) and unforgettable songs still played and chanted today: “Buddy Bolden’s Blues,” “Wolverine Blues,” a passel of creamy Creole confections, and four Mardi Gras Indian anthems, the first time any had appeared on a commercial release (see my entry from earlier this month). This slab, like Tootie Ma, is a big fine thing!
Have you ever wondered what it would have sounded if Professor Longhair had backed some Mardi Gras Indians? Wonder no more. I direct you to Track 12 here (you guessed it–no YouTube video available), a raucous version of “Saints.” Also of note: the first jukebox single recorded and released by Mardi Gras Indians: