As featured in the topless dance clubs of San Francisco's North Beach, 1964's 'C'Mon And Swim' marked a welcome return to the hit parade for local rock'n'roll pioneer, Bobby Freeman. Collected here for the first time are the singer's recordings for the Autumn label which also charts the emergence of a precocious Sly Stone as writer, arranger, and producer on all sides.
Bobby Freeman's C'mon & Swim barrelled to the top of the US hit parade in the summer of 1964 at the height of the San Francisco-based topless dancer controversy. After several years of Twist, Watusi and Mashed Potatoes, as well as the recent onslaught of the British Invasion, the American record-buying public would normally have rejected yet another stale dance fad, but the infectious groove of C'mon & Swim and its fresh, vital sound ensured a monster record.
It was also a welcome reappearance for the talented Freeman, whose career had ebbed and flowed since his ground-breaking national hit Do You Wanna Dance in 1958. The singer's return to chart status was due in part to the patronage of Tom Donahue and Bob Mitchell, popular SF deejays and owners of the newly-formed Autumn label, who with 'Swim' got a huge hit on almost their very first try.
This is the first time on compact disc for Freeman's classic Autumn LP C'mon And S-W-I-M and indeed the first proper overview of his period at the label. Unlike so many other dance-orientated releases of the period, all of Freeman's Autumn material is strong in both terms of composition and performance. In addition to rockers like Do The Monkey aimed at the discotheque, there are many groovy and intelligent uptown R&B productions, all handled with consummate ease by the versatile singer.
It should come as no surprise that this is due to the overwhelming presence of Sylvester Stewart, aka the young and precocious Sly Stone, as producer, arranger, songwriter and musician on virtually every track. This disc therefore makes a great companion to our earlier retrospective of Sly's Autumn years, Precious Stone (CDCHD 539). C'mon And S-W-I-M features the complete 1964 album plus all of the great non-LP sides such as Friends, Cross My Heart and Bobby's cool version of Jackie Lee's The Duck. Also included are eight alternate takes and unissued tracks - mostly Sly compositions - that provide a fascinating glimpse into the working relationship between artist and producer. We've even left in plenty of entertaining studio banter to further illustrate this point.
Cognisant of the importance of the 'Swim' years in relation to both his and Sly's careers, Bobby graciously granted a rare in-depth interview for the liner note, which is packed with photos and memorabilia from the Autumn era. But hey, hold on a minute. C'mon And S-W-I-M isn't just a history lesson, it's also a swinging party disc. So come on everybody , come on in, Bobby's gonna show you how to do the Swim...
By Alec Palao