A blog about the things I find accidentally on Spotify while looking for something else

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Prima Generation '72 - Louis Prima

By the mid-sixties, swingin' trumpeter Louis 'King Louis from Jungle Book' Prima had split from his wife and duet partner Keely Smith and set up his own label, Prima One Records.  His later albums are a strange affair as he used them to promote artists signed to his label, giving over whole tracks to them, interspersed with his own now slightly tired-sounding contributions of comedy Italian schtick swing.  This album from 1972, for instance, contains a version of the Rolling Stones's 'Sympathy For the Devil' featuring the fine jazz organist Little Richie Varola, which deviates from the original so much one wonders if it was meant to be a cover of 'Jesus Christ Superstar' that got mis-labelled.  What fans of prime Prima made of his apparent new jazz-rock direction is anyone's guess.  Elsewhere Prima's band the Witnesses get soulful on Stevie Wonder's 'If You Really Love Me' and Prima himself tackles Joe South's 'Rose Garden' in a manner that suggests even he knows it's not really working.
   Although many tracks are just plain failures, Prima's last albums are worth listening to purely for the sheer fascination of hearing someone venturing where they were never meant to go. To understand what Prima was really all about, however, check out 1956's The Wildest, where he channels Louis Armstrong, puts him through an Italian American filter, and explodes with so much energy he nearly makes that new-fangled rock 'n' roll redundant.  Primia, Smith and the Witnesses come across as a bunch of swing renegades.  'I ain't got nobody', they all sing together.  They may be freaks, but they've got each other's backs.  Also, check out any videos of him performing with Keely Smith on Youtube.  They are bloody funny.


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