Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Pete Fountain GOOSES "Louie Louie"

Here's Dixieland clarinet ace Pete Fountain with a literally honky version of the rockin' reggae "Louie Louie." What's not to like?

One of the main problems with the song is to figure out what the hell to sing. It's in a sort of incomprehensible dialect. Pete and the boys get around this by simply walking to the middle of the road, and crooning the song's redundant two-word title. "Just pronounce it like it's written….Looey Looey."

Pete's clarinet, over a slinky beat, gives a few torpid "ahh ooooh" honks, while the muted choir lumbers along, not sure what other lines they're supposed to sing. Pete livens things up with some staccato squeaks…and this goes on just long enough (2:10).

At the time, Fountain was still aiming his licorice stick at the waning "easy listening" record-buying crowd. His albums were either pure pop-jazz Dixie corn, or a more muted mood music assortment. The cut below is from Pete's "I've Got You Under My Skin" album, along with old swing favorites "My Blue Heaven" and "The More I See You." The mix includes hideous Broadway junk (the title track to "Mame") and movie themes ("Born Free" anyone?). "Louie Louie" and everybody's favorite Beatles track ("Yesterday") were concessions to any listener hovering at age 30. His version of "Louie Louie" is not an attempt to pour syrup on The Kingsmen; it was inspired by a slow take from The Sandpipers. Really, what other option did Pete have except to get a bit Acker Bilky? The clarinet isn't exactly a feature of many rock or country bands...and he wasn't going to be in Benny Goodman's shadow with big band jazz, or squawk into be bop jazz territory and expect his followers to stay with him.

Fortunately for Fountain, he had an audience of contemporaries who never left him (a few may have wandered away after having trouble finding the men's room). His Dixie stuff and trad jazz still had some kind of audience even into his 80's. I think he was about 82 when, last year, he turned up to massive applause at a New Orleans jazz festival, and ran through some of his classics, including "Basin Street Blues" and, of course, "When the Saints Come Marchin' In."

Just for some added twistiness, the album was recorded mostly in Nashville (sans weepy violins) by Charles "Bud" Dant, who once produced a novelty music album for rustic comedian Charlie Weaver. On that one he was was billed as Charles "Puddin' Head" Dant.

LOUIE LOUIE Pete Fountain

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