Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Risque novelty! THEY ALL ASK FOR YOU - Paul Gayten

"Down by the zoo…they all ask for you." And if you don't pronounce a "k" too well, and New Orleans jazz man Paul Gayten doesn't, it's hilarity. Because "the monkeys ass…the bears ass….the giraffes ass…HEY! "

Yass yass yass, "and the hyenas ass, and the cats ass, and the birds ass, the bees ass…the jackass ass…they ALL ASK FOR YOU!"

Oh, like Viley Virus twerking her ass is such sophistication? Now she's calling herself a feminist, and the press says she's "edgy." A few generations ago, a stupid novelty was simply acknowledged to be nothing but a stupid novelty.

So where did we go wrong, I ass you?

Ass for Paul Gayten (January 29, 1920 – March 26, 1991), he wasn't your typical risque novelty song guy, he was a veteran New Orleans pianist and band leader. He had some good credentials as a songwriter as well ("For You My Love" a hit for Larry Darnell, "But I Do" for Clarence "Frogman" Henry). Some of his early hits featured Annie Laurie as vocalist ("Since I Fell For You" in 1947). Shifting to New Jersey's Regal label in 1950, he and his band became one of their biggest selling acts. They toured the club circuit throughout the East Coast. When Regal cashed in, in 1052, it was good news for Gayten. He ended up on a major label, Okeh, and Paul himself handled the vocals for his first release, "All Alone and Lonely."He label issued his singles in both the 78 rpm and 45 rpm format.

Oddly enough, Gayten got the assignment to sing "They All Ask For You" with the Kelly Owens Orchestra for the 1952 Okeh release below. These one-off jerk-off was atypical of the R&B singer, who started 1953 with "Don't Worry Me," and then "Time Is a Passing," and "Cow Cow Blues." While solid on the R&B circuit, Paul's singles didn't inspire Okeh to sign him for more. In 1956 he recorded for Chess subsidiaries Checker and Argo, and had a surprise hit with disc jockeys via "Be My Baby." Dance and swing helped the versatile Gayten band retain airplay, and he was even touring with New Orleans R&B-rock star Fats Domino, releasing "Flat Foot Sam," "Nervous Boogie" "Music Goes Round and Round" and "Tough Enough."

While so many not in the music biz say "The music should be free, make your money touring," it's not easy to find venues, life on the road is hard, and sometimes things get just plain boring. Gayten was able to work as a talent scout and producer at Chess Records, and get his songs placed as well. He combined all three with the signing of Clarence "Frogman" Henry. Sometimes sitting in on recordings, it's Gayten playing piano on Chuck Berry's "Carol." In the late 60's, when soul and pop became hot sellers, and Big Band and jazz less so, Gayten tried to start up his own record label to support the older performers. One of his first signings for Pzazz in 1968 was the veteran Louis Jordan. Gayten retired from the music biz a few years later.

By the late 70's and early 80's, the older music of a Louis Jordan or Fats Waller found a new audience and some fresh respect, and pioneering R&B performers were being treated to vinyl re-issues and "greatest hits" compilations. There was also renewed interest in "risque" tracks and ironically enough, for many, the only Paul Gayten track they've heard or heard of is "They All Ask For You." But you can ask for more Paul Gayten at your local record store…although it may take an express bus or train to find a local record store…

GET A PIECE OF... They All Ask For You

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