Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A 50's Detour: Crowley Meets Cosimo!

Warren Storm - I'm A Little Boy (Looking For Love)

The story of Excello Records is generally always built around its "swamp blues" classics by Lightnin' Slim, Lazy Lester, Slim Harpo and others, most of which were recorded at J.D. "Jay" Miller's Crowley, Louisiana studios. Excello's parent, Nashboro Records, however, recorded material in other genres, and in the mid-'50s the label attempted to ride the new rock 'n' roll wave with recordings on Excello, Nasco and Zil. Although lots of interesting material was recorded and released, the only big rock 'n' roll hit the label scored was "Oh Julie," a doo-wop-meets-rockabilly number on Nasco by the Crescendoes. A bulk of the rockin' stuff, however, was recorded by Jay Miller in Crowley, and one of those tracks is today's featured track.

Warren Storm was a session drummer for Miller, and his "Prisoner's Song" is his best-known recording. However, he recorded several Fats Domino-inspired cuts, and "I'm A Little Boy (Looking For Love)," released on Nasco, is my favorite. The groove is so on-point with what Fats was doing that it's as if Miller and Storm had made a quick trip to Cosimo Matassa's studio in N'Awlins and borrowed the sevices of Dave Bartholomew, Lee Allen and the rest of the cats that crafted Domino's sides. Storm even captures Domino's phrasing on the vocals to ride the groove on home. Although it's easy to dismiss the record as an "I'm Walkin'" knockoff, the tune works and I've been giving it a lot of play lately. Hot Slop's Rob Baker introduced me to this fun number some time ago, and it is available, along with lots of other good stuff by Johnny Jano and others, on the Ace comp Hey Baby! The Rockin' South, which features several Jay Miller productions.

A post script: Jay Miller's story has a dark side, however, that is worth noting. Miller, although comfortable with using mixed-race bands on the classic Excello sides, was a segregationist who also owned the Reb Rebel label, home of racist Cajun/country singer Johnny Rebel, whose recordings are revered by hate groups today. Fortunately, white musicians like Warren Storm were not part of that enterprise.

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