Fried Rice & Chicken
Having Little Freddie King's Orleans' recordings made available again will certainly be welcome by fans of the Crescent City's down-home blues performer. He was 55 in 1995, the year Orleans Records released 'Swamp Boogie,' that was his first album. For much of his career, he played hole-in-the-wall bar gigs in New Orleans, as a sideman for John "Harmonica" Williams, Polka Dot Slim, Bill "Boogie Bill" Webb and "Brother" Percy Randolph. Gary Rouzan brought him to Carlo Ditta and Ditta put together a session of sympathetic players including bassists Earl Stanley (famous for the local classic "Pass the Hatchet"), Robert Wilson and Jason Sipher; drummers Kerry Brown and Bradley Wisham; and organist and pianist "Crazy" Rick Allen. The first six sides of this 11 track CD (and side A of the vinyl LP) are from this session. The last five are live recordings issued initially King's in-concert album "Sing Sang Sung," released in 2000 with his longtime drummer "Wacko" Wade Wright; bassist Anthony Anderson, bass; and harmonica player Bobby Lewis Titullio. There are also recordings from two 1999 shows at the Dream Palace on Frenchmen Street.
Little Freddie King, unlike his namesake, was no virtuoso nor would one call him a great singer, but his exuberance and simple, straight-forward approach provide plenty for a listener (or someone at his shows to enjoy) as he plays driving, danceable songs with plenty of honesty and fervor. Jimmy Reed and the swamp blues tradition of Baton Rouge may be a source of his musical inspirations, but Freddie King's recordings is another one.
Of the eleven tracks, there are six instrumentals starting with the opening "Cleo's Back." Of interest is "The Great Chinese," which starts off as a cover of "Tequila," but only takes off from the first bars of that classic. There is a twangy rendition of "Cotton Fields Back Home, "titled "Kinky Cotton Fields." The live tracks open with "Sing, Sang, Sung," a retitled rendition of Freddie King's " Sen-sa-shun," which itself is an instrumental version of "Got My Mojo Working." Another nod to the Texas Cannonball (Freddie King) is "Hideaway."
The vocals include a nice slow blues "Mean Little Woman," a credible "What'd I Say," and the swamp blues styled "I Used To Be Down," with its Jimmy Reed's touches and it incorporates Reed's "Down in Virginia." There is a tinge of funk on "Do She Ever Think of Me" as he wonders if she ever thinks about poor Freddie and a Jimmy Reed cover, "Honest I Do."
The album closes with "Bad Chicken," a tune he continues to play today with his chicken scratching guitar. It concludes a welcome release that brings together the best of his Orleans recordings that displays the simple exuberant blues he so capably still plays.
I received my review copy from a publicist. Here is Little Freddie King performing.