Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Rockie Charles
Born For You
Orleans Records

A most pleasant surprise is this reissue of the late New Orleans based soul singer's 1996 release. Nicknamed "The President of Soul" after a 1970s recording released on his own label, he returned to recording when Carlos Ditta contacted him after seeing an ad Charles had placed, resulting in this recording. Outside of Smokey Greenwell's harmonica and Jerry Embree's tenor sax, none of the players on this session backing Charles' guitar and vocals is a name I remember. They do a fine job in backing Charles on his eleven originals here.

This was a marvelous soul session with a bit of country flavor in the vein of some of Joe Tex's recordings although Charles' voice is suggestive of Al Green. The album opens in a solid vein with his emotive yearning vocal on the lament "Born For You," with the smoldering heat in his vocal while Embree's tenor sax adds a mournful riff over the understated backing. "Old Black Joe," is a marvelous half-talking piece of story telling in the Joe Tex manner. Greenwell's harmonica adds to the atmosphere of another lament "Oh My Darling, Look What You're Doing to Me," as he sings about wanting to move but his body does not seem able. Another song with a Joe Tex feel is "Something Is Wrong With Our Love," with his plead to find a way out of this with solid idiomatic horn playing. Festis Believe in Justice." There is more of Memphis feel with the chugging rhythms of "I Need Your Love so Bad, I'm About to Loose My Mind," while there is also a fine holiday song, "I Just Called to Wish You a Merry Christmas" (and a Happy New Year."

With steel guitar added to the backing, Charles' lyrical skills are herd on the catchy ""Born For You," was a most welcome return for Rockie Charles which led to a variety of Jazz Fest, Ponderosa Stomp and other performances over the next decade. I had the pleasure of seeing him perform a couple times prior to his passing away in 2010. The soulful performances on this most welcome re-release, are gems of down-home, understated, southern soul.

I received my review copy from a publicist. This review originally appeared in the January-February Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 376) although I have corrected the year of Rockie Charles' death year as 2010 (the review had 2007). Here is Rockie Charles from an in-store appearance at the Louisiana Music Factory in 2007.

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