Breaking It Up!
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In late 1951, Louis Prima was hot on the heels of a comeback success the year before with "Oh Babe!," and a record so big that it spawned numerous cover versions by everyone from Wynonie Harris and Lionel Hampton to Kay Starr and even a Spanish language version by Lalo Guerrero ("Chitas Patas Boogie" on Imperial and used in the movie Zoot Suit with Edward James Olmos). After three follow-ups went nowhere (one of which was the immortal "Zooma Zooma"), Prima came to Columbia Records and was handed over to A&R chief Mitch Miller. And here was part of the problem. Prima's audience liked a cruder Louis and were used to records cut on shoestring budgets with production values that were as raw as the music they framed, while Miller's production was state-of-the-art squeaky-clean. Miller had Prima covering R&B hits of the day ("One Mint Julep") jump blues ("Oooh-Dahdilly-Dah" and one of the few tracks to feature Keely Smith on here), Latin-flavored tunes ("Chili Sauce"), novelty tunes like "Barnacle Bill the Sailor," "Boney Bones," and "It's Good as New (I Painted It Blue)," as well as his patented Italian shuffles like "Eleanor," "Basta," "Luigi," "The Bigger the Figure" and a bombastic version of "Oh Marie" (perhaps the only dud in this entire package), framed in the corniest "Sing Along with Mitch" arrangement imaginable and a million light-years away from his famous Capitol recording of the same tune. This entire set combines all 14 sides of the seven singles issued, plus the addition of "Chop Suey, Chow Mein" along with the original 1958 cover art to Columbia's original issue of this material. Not his best, but an interesting one to add to the collection after you have most of everything else.
Born: 07 December 1911 in New Orleans, LA
Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s
Top Albums and Songs by Louis Prima
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