Monday, March 14, 2011
Warren Lee - "Star Revue" - Dee-Su, 1966
Today I've got a real dancer of an RnB tune. It has all the ingredients - RnB, mid 60s, NOLA, and Toussaint. Unfortunately, Warren Lee never made the big time. So not only is he underappreciated, but biographical info is scarce. Most of today's info is courtesy the fine folks at the now silenced Funky 16 Corners blog.
Warren Lee was born in 1938 in Vacherie, LA. His first recorded single was for Ron Records in '61, with ‘Unemployed’ b/w ‘The Uh-Huh’ . Over the next few years he released sides on Soundex, Nola, and Jin. None of these single made it very far. When this tune landed in '65, it was certainly his best to date. Having RnB demi-god Toussaint on board didn't hurt. This tune was good enough to make it outside of the New Orleans market and onto a few compilations. After a few more releases, Lee moved to the funky side of things, releasing ‘Funky Bell’ on Wand (with The Meters backing him!).
He shows up once more on the Choctaw label in '74 with "Direct From The Ghetto". That seems to be the last of Warren Lee's recording career.
Info on Deesu is also in short supply. I believe it was a smaller label, probably from New Orleans, which worked out a P&D with Dover Records. Dover Records Inc was run by Cosimo Matassa, a well-known studio engineer considered by many to be pivotal in the creation of the "New Orleans Sound".
Many small labels working under Dover, including Deesu, Nola, Tailgate, Frisco, White Cliffs, and Eight-Ball, probably went under when Dover went bankrupt in '68.
So here's a taste of today's tremendous tune. Of course, if you've ever heard me play I'm sure you've heard this a few times already.