The HooDoo Loungers – So Beautiful
I’ve wondered in the past if musicians forsook soul music for rap, hip-hop & modern R&B that isn’t really “rhythm & blues” at all. Sam Cooke, Ray Charles was R&B. This new Hoodoo Loungers CD reaches back with a bountiful collection of soulful musings. A sparkling ensemble.
So Beautiful (Dropped Jan 21–Paradiddle Records) has a varied thrust. It’s all done with showbusiness gusto. And it’s not in any way hokey. “So Beautiful,” has charm with its doo-wop fuel, soulful saucy horns, stride piano. It possesses that vocal finesse magic of Mary Wells (“My Guy”), & Brenda Holloway (“Just Look What You’ve Done”). Yet sounds as tight as a Broadway musical number.
“Hoodoo Time Machine,” has shades of Sly & the Family Stone & their root sound has a mix of doo-wop, 60s soul-funk, crisp beats, sweet voices, & the swing cake’s brassy yeast rises hot in this musical oven. New York’s Hoodoo Loungers have a mainstream surface, but their essence is what is paramount.
“Get Ready For the Party,” is a fun tune with ancestors from 1958: Wanda Jackson, Elvis & later The Rivieras & Roomful of Blues all scored with “Let’s Have a Party.”
“Careless Love,” more traditional is closer to Dixieland here. The vocalist’s expertise has Bessie Smith richness, a great clarinet solo with Fats Domino jump-blues piano, & Chick Webb 1920’s drum sound. All elegant. Beautiful stuff.
The retro “Hit the Ground” swings in with a Coasters/Drifters vocal style that’s polished & contrasting. Allen Toussaint’s “Yes We Can Can,” has Hoodoo enthusiasm. It reminds me of a Pam Windo & the Shades’ 1990 song “Just To Be Alive,” with Pam’s late husband reeds dynamo Gary Windo.
The Hoodoo Loungers are Dawnette Darden (vocals), David Deitch (keys/vocals), Douglas Dean (drums), Marvin Joshua (vocals), Dan Koontz (keys/vocals), Joe Lauro (acoustic guitar/bass) & Michael Schiano (guitars/vocals) with John Brierly (trumpet), Bob Hovey & Eric Miller (trombones), Eric Kay (reeds), Chris Ripley (drums/cut 15) & Bruce Beyer (drums/cut 11).
“Circe,” is one of the best songs with its female vocal mindful of Elvis Presley’s “Crawfish,” in the film “King Creole.” Taking place in New Orleans, Elvis is on a French Quarter balcony & sings. Then the words are beautifully echoed by a female black street vendor, the late Jean “Kitty” Bilbrew. Stunning.
Elvis made a statement on a 50s Sun recording intro to his trio. Since Elvis uttered those words many songs have been written with the title “Real, Real Gone” — here it’s a great rockabilly inflected tune.
With a slight Louis Armstrong vocal timbre “Bucket’s Got a Hole In It,” sounds closer to Tom Waits. The final “Another Hunkered-Down Day,” borrows beat/melody slightly from ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky,” & bits of Sgt. Pepper era Beatle songs. Especially the piano. But it’s forgivable. “Hunkered,” is quite a good song.
Color image courtesy: band website. A well-produced 1-hour CD available @ https://www.hoodooloungers.com/