Sunday, August 02, 2009

Bobby Paris - Let Me Show You The Way (1968)

Bobby Paris began his singing career as a member of the Golden Keys doo-wop group, and in addition to this album on Tetragrammaton he recorded a number of singles over the years (see discography here). Paris typically gets labeled a "blue-eyed soul" singer, but as he's Puerto -Rican "brown-eyed soul" is the more appropriate label. There is no doubt that Paris is a powerful and soulful singer and, as you can hear on this album, he can really belt out a song about a broken relationship.
in addition to singing and songwriting (he composed most of the songs on this LP), Paris also worked as a producer, co-producing Bobbie Gentry's "Ode to Billy Joe" among other tunes. There's an online interview, if you want more information on his career.
So what about this record? Well, it starts out really strong, and Side 1, which consists entirely of his own compositions, includes some great soul (a few of which became hits on the Northern Soul circuit). Stand-out tracks include the uptempo “Per-Son-Nal-Ly” (which sounds like something Tom Jones could have made a hit out of) and “Out of Key” (which has some more reflective moments between the soaring choruses). However, Side 2 attempts something more and fails in the process. It’s an extended song cycle that feature a couple originals and some classic cuts interspersed with brief spoken passages. There are some good original songs on Side 2 as well, but the spoken interludes, which sound like rejects from a Rod McKuen record, detract rather than add to the experience, and the there’s way too much pathos on some of the covers (you kind of expect him to break down crying in the middle of “Bye, Bye Blackbird”). Paris might get points for trying to conceive a narrative to link the songs, but loses them for his annoying attempts to explain the narrative arc. However, overall this is a decent album with some fine songs and great vocals, but it would have been better if he had attempted a little less. The production could also have been better on this one--it sounds kind of muddy at time--but that may also be because I've only got the mono version (the record was also released in stereo).
Here's a tracklist (although Side 2 is labeled "The Cycle" as a whole and the spoken word pieces also each have their own name, which I've left off here, as they are best forgotten):
a. Out Of Key
b. I'm So Lonely
c. Per-Son-Nal-Ly
d. No No No Girl
e. I'm Not That Kind of Man
f. Going Out The Way I Came In
g. Let Me Show You The Way
h. You
i. Please, Mr. Sun
j. Tragedy
k. Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying
m. Bye bye Blackbird
The recording is (obviously) in mono and encoded with a VBR-extreme setting. You can get it from r-share or m-fire.
In other news, I was also sent a cleaner recording of the first Pollution album, which is now available in place of the older recording. Also, I've gotten a couple requests to post the Angel, Angel Down We Go soundtrack now that's it's no longer available on another blog, and will try to do so in the coming months. Stay tuned for more good music--I picked up a bunch off odd folk records at a thrift store recently and still have a backlog of records I wanted to post from before. Next up, though, is the 1969 country/rock release from Willis Hoover entitled Hoover.