The Gators Featuring Willie Tee
This is one of several reissues of classic New Orleans music put together by Aaron Fuchs and Tuff City Records and associated labels. It is available on vinyl (although with only 10 of 15 tracks). Led by Willie Tee (noted for the hit Teasin’ You) and including drummer Larry Penia, Irvin Charles on bass and June Ray on guitar, there are comparisons to be made with the better known Meters, particularly given that both groups put out riff based funk grooves, although The Gators were perhaps more vocally oriented when these sides were made around 1970.
A portion of this is comprised of funk grooves, often built around a bass figure from Irvin Charles, like on the opening Booger Man or Gator Bait. Tee’s vocals are featured both on dance numbers like Funky Funky Twist or other songs that seem somewhat influenced by the Commodores and similar acts (one song on the compact disc version is I’m Gonna Make You Love Me). A dance number Get Up, with a girl chorus taking the vocal lead features, has some nice saxophone, possibly by Willie Tee’s brother, Earl Turbington.
Among the additional tracks on the compact disc is a fine soul-blues, One Thrill Fool,with noteworthy guitar from Ray. A significant omission in this interesting collection is the lack of liner notes. Still, fans of New Orleans music and seventies funk may likely wish to check this out. Coming out on the sister Night Train International label is New Orleans Twist Party, a compilation from Rip Records that will have rare cuts by Eddie Bo, Professor Longhair, Bobby Mitchell and others.
I likely purchased this and this review originally appeared in September 1995 Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 204). Here is The Gaturs performing Wasted.