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Go Boy Go! 1949-1952

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Album Review

Consider that Frankie "Sugar Chile" Robinson was the premier, and almost the only boogie-woogie pianist to come out of Detroit. Consider that he retired from the music business before he graduated high school. And consider that he was between eight and fourteen years old when he made these recordings (also available on the Classics label,) which makes this release of vintage blues from the child prodigy an important document. Similar in looks to latter period child star Gary Coleman, and similar stylistically to the barrelhouse pianists who preceded him, he was a phenomenon, but hardly a novelty act. Robinson might be best known in contemporary times for the title track from this CD, which was the music for the popular Dockers slacks T.V. commercial. Aside from the vast trivia associated with Robinson (well documented in the liner notes by Dave Penny,) this is a bulk grouping of short, idiosyncratic boogie and blues with no outtakes from a four-year period that is well reproduced digitally, and sung and played in a sophisticated style that belies the kiddish lyrics. Tunes like his hit "Numbers Boogie," "After School Blues," "Bouncing Ball Blues," "I'll Eat My Spinach" and "Baby Blues" (written by Buddy Ebsen) reflect growing-up growing pains. On the sillier or jive side, "Vooey Vooey Vay," "The Hunkey (Ice Cream) Man" and "Whop! Whop!" remind you that children should act as children for as long as they can. Robinson's tribute to baseball "The Bases Were Loaded," the famous "Caldonia" and two Christmas tunes are classics. There are only a few instrumentals, two played on organ ("Detroit Rag" and "St. Louis Blues") the immortal "Yancey's Blues," and one "Hum Drum Boogie," featuring the celeste. Many of these selections are written by famed composers, either Vernon White or Irving Gordon — only one was penned by the pianist. At the end of the CD are selections from 1946-1951 from movies, the thin tinny sound quite inferior to the rest, but including well-known songs and a comedy skit. After graduating from Olivet College in Michigan with a degree in psychology, and working at a television station in Grand Rapids as an advertising sales account representative, he reappeared briefly on-stage in 2003, and in 2007 he toured Europe. This CD is a potent reminder of how joyous Robinson's basic boogie-woogie was, and what a remarkable talent he wielded in his adolescence. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi


Born: 1940 in Detroit, MI

Genre: R&B/Soul

Years Active: '40s, '50s

Born in Detroit, MI, in 1940, little Frankie Robinson began toying with the piano as soon as he was big enough to sit on the bench and reach the keyboard. Legend has it he managed to play something resembling "Tuxedo Junction" on the ivories before he'd attained the age of three. Frankie Carle claimed to have discovered the kid in 1945, and a meteoric career was set in motion when the precocious child performed at the White House for President Harry S. Truman. He also sat in with Lionel Hampton's...
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Go Boy Go! 1949-1952, "Sugar Chile" Robinson
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