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Cruisin' With Frankie Ford, CD (£11.50)
STILL CRUISIN' WAY DOWN YONDER IN NEW ORLEANS
by John Broven
Frankie Ford has been a great advocate of New Orleans R&B throughout his career, and the release of CRUISIN' WITH FRANKIE FORD will enhance his own cause.
A real coup is the first-time appearance of all Frankie's recordings for Imperial Records cut between 1960 and 1962. Until now his six Imperial singles have been obscured, rather unfairly, by his sides for Ace Records of Jackson, Mississippi, which had led to his everlasting hit, Sea Cruise in 1959 (and coincidentally is being reissued this month on GOLDEN AGE OF AMERICAN ROCK'N'ROLL VOL.7 (CDCHD 700).
The Imperial recordings did yield two minor Hot 100 entries: the cover of Joe Jones' You Talk Too Much (# 87 in 1960), and the cover of Boyd Bennett's Seventeen (# 72 in 1961). There is much to enjoy in the other 12 Imperial sides, especially If You've Got Troubles - with its Sea Cruise riff - and the stunning coupling They Said It Couldn't Be Done/A Man Only Does (What A Woman Makes Him Do). Then there is the previously unissued pair: Dedicated To Fats, a rocking tribute to Frankie's mentor Fats Domino, and One Hour with its Clarence Frogman Henry/But I Do-type arrangement. The real bonuses are the productions by New Orleans genius Dave Bartholomew, and the performances of the top New Orleans R&B session men.
Come 1984, and Frankie Ford was well and truly the Comeback Kid. His profile had been raised considerably by his cameo appearance in the 1978 Paramount movie American Hot Wax followed by European tours. Enter Mike Vernon (the founder of the legendary Blue Horizon Records) who with his deep love of New Orleans R&B was a natural to produce Frankie.
Mike helped select the many New Orleans songs, and coupled Frankie in a North London studio with his touring band Johnny & the Roccos. The seamless sessions resulted in the NEW ORLEANS DYNAMO LP which was released on Ace LP CH 116. Here the highlights are the very strong version of Fats Domino's Whiskey Heaven (Frankie believes it could still be a hit or even picked up by advertising agencies for TV commercials and films), Wilbert Harrison's obscure-but-charming Don't Drop It, and the two originals Fine Thang! and That's Right.
Frankie Ford is looking forward to the release of this CD, which will appeal to his own loyal fan base and those of New Orleans R&B and rock'n'roll generally. "Can you believe I'm in my 60th year and I'm having the time of my life!" he told me recently. It is good to see that Frankie is still rocking, for it has been an exhilarating cruise through the years.