Bobby Charles “Bobby Charles”

Bobby Charles

Bobby Charles’ self-titled debut album is an easy favorite. Fans of The Band have no excuse not to track this one down, as it features production work from Rick Danko, keys from Garth Hudson and contributions from Levon Helm, and Dr. John as well. (Check the lineup here). If you love The Band (s/t) and Music From Big Pink, this is the next record you need.

The record hits you song after song with its relaxed vibe, authentic lyrics, and instantly gratifying hooks. Bobby kills me when he sings “oh what a good day to go fishing” on the ballad “I Must Be In A Good Place Now” and the 100th time thru the “Save Me Jesus” chorus gets me too. Bobby Charles s/t is split pretty much down the middle with soulful ballads and upbeat groovers. “Grow Too Old” borders on a Randy Newman sound. “He’s Got All The Whiskey” should be a standard! “Small Town Talk” is like a country-cajun Shuggie Otis! Who’s not going to dig this?

The songs on the B side take a little more investment to hear, but they all pay off. There’s the beautiful “Tennessee Blues” and an ahead-of-its-time treatment to (bonus track) “New Mexico.”   A really classic and contemporary sound on these tracks and just a perfect feel. Sick album, I love it.

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“Small Town Talk”

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mp3: New Mexico

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8 Comments.

  • ib

    Sweet! These two tracks have got me seriously wanting to hear a whole lot more. “Small Town Talk” hits the spot in an understated way kind of reminiscent of Mike Nesmith’s solo output, but New Mexico is just downright beautiful.

    Since i haven’t listened to this album in its entirety it would be presumptuous of me to rate it, but i’m tempted nonetheless to give it a perfect ten. Lovely.

  • Emily

    Where did you find the Bobby Charles vinyl!? I am desperately searching for a copy.

  • Len Liechti

    Well, it’s taken me a long time to get round to buying this one, but, hey, was it worth the wait. It’s a perfect combination of flawless two- and three-chord songs (from a man who claims he can’t play any instrument and has no musical learning whatsoever, but who clearly has a gift for lyrics with true feel), vocals that could only come from New Orleans (Bobby sounds like Fats Domino on some songs, Lee Dorsey on others, and, yes, Leonard Chess was surprised to find the young Charles wasn’t black) and the sort of musicianship that sounds engagingly ramshackle but you know with certainty that it takes near-virtuosity to achieve (especially Amos Garrett on guitar, John Simon on piano and Jim Colgrove on bass).

    The CD arrived on Wednesday, and I played it whilst preparing dinner on Thursday morning. I was gobsmacked by my first hearing of “Save Me Jesus”, and on Thursday evening that song was in my open mic set. I can’t pay any higher tribute, other than to say that along with Vernon Wray’s Wasted this is the best album I’ve heard so far this year. Unreservedly recommended to anyone who thinks country and soul make a great stew.

    Incidentally, the Bearsville CD reissue has no booklet notes at all: zilch. For a list of who played what on what, try this: http://theband.hiof.no/albums/bobby_charles_hideki.html .

  • Len Liechti

    PS: my thanks to Michael and Nik for the tipoff, and to Brendan for his immaculate good taste.

  • Michael Spalding

    Welcome to the fold, Len! I’ve been preaching the gospel of Bobby Charles for years and I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t immediately cotton to this album. Shuffle this in with some Sir Douglas Quintet and you’ve got the perfect soundtrack for a backyard barbeque. . .

  • New 3 disc Bobby Charles set looks nice:

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