‘Crème de la crème of deep soul’

January 1, 2011

On our Meet the Musicians page, we have posted a new excerpt from our interview with New Orleans R&B singer C.P. Love. Love talks about performing in Port Sulphur, Louisiana, during the years of segregation. Port Sulphur is located in Plaquemines Parish, the area south of New Orleans that was historically synonymous with Louisiana racism. As Barry wrote in an unrelated article, “For many years, the kingpin of politics in this delta parish was judge and district attorney Leander Perez, a hardcore segregationist who converted an abandoned fort in the tidal swamps—infested with mosquitoes, rattlesnakes, and water moccasins—into a jail for civil-rights activists. Though Perez has been dead for four decades, his legacy is not forgotten here.” The blues always has a social and racial context, and this two-minute clip is a reminder.

Here’s some more about C.P. Love—excerpts from a history of his recordings on the web site Sir Shambling’s Deep Soul Heaven, with some musical offerings too:

Carrollton Pierre Love was born in New Orleans on 1 May 1945, and raised in the city on its jazz and R & B roots. He was playing with pro bands by the time he was 16. He first cut for Earl King and Elijah Walker’s King Walk label in the ’60s, with the deep You Call The Shots (below) being his first great performance. This cut featured his high clear baritone over a dead slow NOLA rhythm, pumping piano and big horns.

In the early ’70s he was one of the Crescent City artists who joined Wardell Quezergue’s conveyor belt to Malaco in the wake of the phenomenal successes of Jean Knight and King Floyd. And it is not a big exaggeration to say that his Chimneyville 45 I Found All These Things (below) outshone all the other tracks cut in Jackson in the early ’70s. This really is the crème de la crème of deep soul—Wardell’s lush strings and Jerry Puckett’s tasteful guitar fills are a perfect backdrop for Love’s voice on this dead slow ballad.

It took until 1985 for him to record again. The delicate tasteful ballad Spiritual Love (below) is clearly an ’80s recording but traditional enough in style to please old school fans like me.C.P. returned on wax in a more traditional New Orleans setting as the featured singer with Hiram Armstrong’s NOLA Jazz Band, as well as cutting a solo set of covers in the ’80s for Southland. These tracks showcased his regular performances in the French Quarter and were no doubt sold to the tourists who thronged there. Rather better though were the cuts on a 12” single on his own label and a CD released by Carlo Ditta on his Orleans imprint. These were mostly cut during a spell on the West Coast. My personal favorite of all these later recordings were the self-penned sunshine island sound of “To The Good Music” with its lovely reggae lilt and his impassioned rendition of Otis’ “My Lover’s Prayer.”

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