Lee Dorsey

Yes We Can/Occapella - Polydor 2066 063 [1970]
Great social aware double sided two-stepper, although on UK issue only, the US issue has different 'B' side. The flip Occapella though did come out in 1971 on US Spring. Both songs written by the great Allan Tousaint, produced by Allan and Marshall E. Sehorn for the US Sansu label. It's probably why the album goes for about £90 now and the fact that the 2007 President Obama  campaign used the version sung by the Pointer Sisters to help it move along.

Mini-skirt en route!
I brought this polydor copy new from Jimmy at the Diskery when it was housed in Hurst Street, Birmingham in 1970. Jimmy still works there today along the more recent staff member Liam. Using my lunch hour from studying at Matthew Boulton Technical Collage, my friends and myself would make the 20 minute walk either way and that left us 20 minutes to, find some new tunes, eat our lunch and perhaps photograph some pretty girls. Most of my collage pals never got past the Wrens Nest (local pub) though that was en route -  those were the days! Some later lunch breaks we went to watch the Radio One Club Road show at the Top Rank in Digbeth, it was free to get in but the music was awful. Good though to hear a decent sound system in them days (BBC).

At this time I was already a fan of the New Orleans sound in the form of Willie Tee, Dixie Cups and Aaron Neville. It was on one of these trips I found the Earl Van Dyke album that I recently sold for £150, I remember Jim had about 10 copies on the shelf at the time! In those days the Diskery kept the singles in company order on the shelves and I can vividly remember rows of blue Stateside singles, black Chess singles and orange Tamla-Motown sleeves! I always wanted to look through them, but behind the counter was for old and trusted customers only! (I'm now a trusted customer but they have all gone now!!!!)

The modern day diskery
I already owned about six UK Bell singles by Lee Dorsey; My Old Car, Working In A Coalmine, Confusion, Get Out Of My Life Woman, Holly Cow and  Ride Your Pony. His best sixties song though (in my opinion) eluded me for a long time, was Go-Go Girl although I had it on a reel-to-reel recording in 1967 from the radio. On the same tape I remember I had a song by Barbara 'Handoff'  that later turned out to Barbara Randolph (I'd never heard the name before LOL) 

One of about 6 European EP's
Lee Dorsey was born in Louisiana, Memphis in 1926 and died there 60 years later in 1986. An ex-boxer (nicknamed "Kid Chocolate") turned singer, Dorsey first recorded for Joe Banashak's Instant label. One song, "Lottie Mo", became a regional hit and led to a contract with Fury. The infectious "Ya Ya" (1961) was a number 1 US R&B and pop Top 10 single. A year later a version by Petula Clark, retitled "Ya Ya Twist", made the US Top 10 and reached the UK Top 20. Dorsey's next release "Do-Re-Mi" (regularly performed by Georgie Fame and Dusty Springfield) was also a hit, although this time reaching no higher than 27 in the Billboard pop chart, and subsequent releases on Fury Records were less successful. His career stalled temporarily when Fury collapsed, but Dorsey re-emerged in 1965 with the classic "Ride Your Pony" on the Amy label. Written by Allen Toussaint and produced by Marshall Sehorn, this combination created a series of impeccable singles that blended crisp arrangements with the singer's easy delivery.

Hard to find UK Sue LP
In 1966 he reached the peak of his success by gaining four Top 40 hits in the UK, including two Top 10 singles with "Working In The Coalmine", featuring a wonderful bass riff, and "Holy Cow", with a mix that enhances Dorsey's melancholic vocals. Both songs reached the US R&B and pop charts. The sweetly doom-laden "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" was another excellent song that deserved a better commercial fate. "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky (From Now On)" became Dorsey's last substantial hit in 1969, although the title track to his "concept" album, "Yes We Can", did reach the US R&B Top 50. Dorsey continued to record for Polydor Records and ABC Records and remained a popular figure, so much so that he guested on the 1976 debut album by Southside Johnny And The Asbury Dukes and supported the Clash on their 1980 tour of North America. Sadly, he died of emphysema in December 1986 and deserves to be remembered for the outstanding examples of melodic soul he recorded. (bio: music.us)

Lee Dorsey USA Discography (excluding 2nd issues)

Valiant 1001 - Lottie Mo/Lover Of Love – 1958
Rex 1005 - Rock/Lonely Evening – 1959
Ace 640 - Rock/Lonely Evening – 1961
ABC-Paramount 10192 - Lottie Mo/Lover Of Love – 1961
Fury 1053 - Ya Ya/Give Me You – 1961
Fury 1056 - Do-Re-Mi/People Gonna Talk – 1961
Fury 1061 - Eenie Meenie Mini Mo/Behind The 8-Ball – 1962
Fury 1066 - You Are My Sunshine/Give Me Your Love – 1962
Fury 1074 - Hoodlum Joe / When I Met My Baby – 1963
Smash 1842 - Hello Good Looking/Someday – 1963
Constellation 115 - Organ Grinder's Swing  – 1964
Constellation 135 - You're Breaking Me Up – 1964
Amy 927 - Ride Your Pony/The Kitty Cat Song – 1965
Amy 939 - Can You Hear Me/Work, Work, Work – 1965
Amy 945 - Get Out Of My Life, Woman/So Long – 1965
Amy 952 - Confusion/The Neighbors' Daughter – 1966
Amy 958 - Working In The Coal Mine/Mexico – 1966
Amy 965 - Holy Cow/Operation Heartache – 1966
Amy 974 - Gotta Find A Job/Rain, Rain, Rain, Go Away – 1967
Amy 987 - My Old Car/Why Wait Until Tomorrow – 1967
Amy 994 - Can't Get Away/Vista Vista – 1967
Amy 998 - Go-Go Girl/I Can Hear You Callin' – 1967
Sansu 474 - Love Lot's Of Lovin'/Take Care Of Our Love – 1967
Sansu 1012 - Hey Babe/Say It Again – 1967
Sansu 1017 - Soul Mining/Draining – 1967
Amy 11,010 - I Can't Get Away/Cynthia – 1968
Amy 11,020 - Wonder Woman/A Little Dab A Do Ya – 1968
Amy 11,031 - Four Corners (Part 1)/Four Corners (Part 2) – 1968
Amy 11,048 - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down/Little Ba-By – 1968
Amy 11,052 - What Now My Love/A Lover Was Born – 1969
Amy 11,055 - Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky.. – 1969
Amy 11,057 - Give It Up/Candy Man – 1969
Bell 908 - I Can Hear You Callin/What You Want – 1970
Polydor 14038 - Yes We Can (Part 1)/O Me O, My O – 1970
Spring 114 - Occapella/Tears, Tears And More Tears – 1971
Polydor 14055 - Sneaking Sally Through The Alley  – 1971
Polydor 14106 - Freedom For The Stallion/If She Won't  – 1971
Polydor 14147 - When Can I Come Home/Gator Tail – 1972
Polydor 14181 - On Your Way Down/Freedom For The Stallion – 1973
ABC 12326 - Night People/Can I Be The One – 1978
ABC 12361 - God Must Have Blessed America/Say It Again – 1978

Albums: (US And EU)
Ya Ya - Fury - 1961
The Best Of Lee Dorsey - Sue ILP 924 - 1965
The New Lee Dorsey - Stateside - 1966
Ride Your Pony/Get Out Of My Life - Amy Stateside - 1967
Yes I Can - Polydor 2489 006 - 1970
Night People - ABC - 1978
Can You Hear Me - (Germany) - 1982
All Ways Funky - Charly - 1982
Goh Be Funky - Charly - 1986
Am I That Easy To Forget - Charly - 1987
Do-Re-Mi - P-Vine (japan) 1987

1 comment:

  1. Cool song. I have never heard it before.
    Blessings, Joanne


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