Lil Bob & the Lollipops were one of the hottest soul groups in Louisiana during the 1960's. Now for the first time, all of their La Louisanne and Tamm sides (including all the material from the super rare "Nobody But You" album) are collected together on one CD. They sounded great when they were recorded and they still soun great today.
Born in 1937 in the small town of Leonville, Louisiana, Camille "Lil" Bob, started his musical career at the tender age of 14, playing the drums for a local artist named Good Rockin' Bob (of no relation). After 3 years with the group, Little Bob ventured out & formed the Lollipops, and made his recording debut in 1957. There seemed to be no stopping them from there, recording best sellers such as "I Got Loaded," Nobody But You," "Agent Double-O Soul," and more. In the late 50's and early 60's, Little Bob & the Lollipops practically soared above the throng, carving their niche in the Swamp Pop Era that took us all by storm. Little Bob has been performing for over 50 years and was elected into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 1992.
The originator of Bayou Soul and Swamp Pop, Lil Bob began his music career in 1952 straight out of the cotton feilds of Leonville Louisiana. One of his many songs including the Louisiana classic "I Got Loaded" is a favorite of New Orleans Mardi Gras revelers for the last 30 years.
Little Bob, born Camille Bob in Arnaudville in 1937, was (and still is) one of the great R&B and Swamp Pop singers of Southwest Louisiana. As quoted by Herman Fuselier, Lafayette music journalist, Little Bob came to our ears the honest way after trading a horse for his first set of drums: "My thing was to make a dollar. Help my mother and father get off that farm, man. When you're a sharecropper, you don't make no money, working on half. About the time the crop come in, the white man had it all. I was tired of going in that field. Dew on your hands in the morning, bending your back digging potatoes and breaking corn, running from snakes. It was a lot easier playing music. In '55, I was making $85 a week playing music. That was big bucks back then."
After some time backing Good Rockin' Bob on drums, Little Bob decided to break out on his own. He wanted to name the band Lil' Bob and the Tigers, but on the advise of a club owner and tapping into the popularity of Cookie & the Cupcakes, he wanted something with a little more girl appeal: and Lil' Bob & the Lollipops was born. I wish bands could still have names like that today. The band got quite a following playing the fraternity and dancehall circuits in the gulf area.
In 1964, Little Bob & the Lollipops recorded for Carol Ranchou's La Louisianne label in Lafayette, pumping out 5 stellar tracks in July, including today's song: "Nobody But You" along with its B-Side, "I Got Loaded." "Nobody But You" was a minor hit (Top 40) nationally in 1959 for Chicago R&B singer Dee Clark. Although somewhat forgotten to history, Clark had a number of smaller hits in the hey day of R&B, culminating in 1961 No. 2 hit, "Raindrops." Clark's version of the song is very urbane R&B (you can listen to it here) complete with extraneous production (including a flute and almost constant backing singers) and his super smooth tenor with the occasional falsetto. There's no doubt it's a sweet, sweet song.
Little Bob & the Lollipops do a bit more with the tune, by doing less. The band is the straight R &B line-up, guitar, bass, drums, and horns--recorded with nothing else (most likely 'cause they couldn't afford any more). The interesting thing about this recording to me is that Little Bob's vocals sit right on the crossroad of the influences on Southern Soul: the material being the urban R&B with a hint of those doowop harmonies in the falsettos, mixed with a little Sam Cooke climbing those notes and a little Bobby "Blue" Bland in the phrasing.
It's also got a couple of the elements of Swamp Pop that I love. Little Bob starts with the money making falsetto hum, achieving that instant recoginition of a song that is so important to the great Swamp Pop tunes. And, although this is more of an accident than an intention, the sound of the singer going into the red on the modulator in those early recordings is endearing to me--there's that piece of compression when Little Bob gets loud that (for no good reason) I find compelling. And then there's the B-Side.
"I Got Loaded" is a great Southwest Louisiana party tune: relentlessly upbeat, repetitive enough in its structure to keep the dance going strong, and anthemic for that sing-a-long. Fellow blogger, Funky 16 Corners, captures that feeling by admitting how he can't help but sing in the car at the top of his lungs everytime this track hits him. I also like the bravado and simplicity of the tune: there's no narrative, no reason, no sad tales--it's just what happened and will happen. Dance to it or not. Don't think about it.
The tender, slow dance ballad on Side A, the stomper on Side B. Now that's what a 45 should be.
There's a bunch more to the story: Little Bob endured some very tough times being a black performer in the early 60s in the South, which is well told by Shane Bernard in his excellent book, Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues, and by Fuselier in the liner notes to the La Lousianne cd. But this story has a good ending, Little Bob still plays to this day and the La Louisanne record label still exists to this day.
Members of that first Lollipop band included:
Lil' Bob - drums, vocals
Sidney Stout - tenor sax
George Rubin - sax
Dalton Miller - keyboard
McZeal Gallow - guitar
Later in 1958 - John Hart - sax joins the band
1. Are You Ever Coming Home
2. Please Believe Me
3. The Way It's Got To Be
4. Are You Going My Way
5. My Heart's On Fire
6. Please Don't Leave
7. Nobody But You
8. So In Need
9. I Got Loaded Recording Date: 1960's
11. Cry Cry Cry
12. Life Can Be Lonely
13. Agent Double-O Soul
14. All These Things
15. Just Got Forget You
16. My Girl
17. Out Of Sight
18. Song For My Father
19. With These Hands
20. The In Crowd
21. The High Road
22. I Can't Take It
23. Oriental Moonlight
24. We're In Love
25. Look Out Mr. Heartache