Happy Organs Wild Guitars & Piano Shuffles
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Full Title - Happy Organs, Wild Guitars and Piano Shuffles. A long overdue re-press for this classic compilation. Contains 24 tracks, all originally released on Clock Records. Beyond the novelty hit lies a whole wealth of fine R&B, rock'n'roll and weirdness, so write this guy into the history books. Ace.
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Here they missed out on over half the hits of David Cortez Clowney of Detroit, a keyboardist/composer who took the stage name Dave "Baby" Cortez when he struck out on his own in 1959. Prior to that he had sung with a group known as The Pearls [1955-57] and as a solo singer with Ember in 1956 under the name David Clooney, and was also a member of The Valentines along with Richard Barrett and Ronnie Bright [best remembered for his bass on Johnny Cymbal's Mr. Bass Man in 1963].
His first instrumental hit was the driving The Happy Organ which went all the way to # 1 Billboard Hot 100/# 5 R&B in early 1959 for the Clock label, b/w Love Me As I Love You. Not bad for a small label and both are in this volume, as are the two sides to his next hit. However, the similar-sounding The Whistling Organ only reached # 61 Hot 100 that summer b/w I'm Happy.
A three-year hitless period then ensued before Rinky Dink became his second-best hit, reaching # 9 R&B/# 10 Hot 100 for the equally small Julia label [picked up in process by Chess]. Neither that, nor the flipside, Getting Right, is here. The same applies to the follow-up Happy Weekend [# 67 Hot 100] and its B-side, Fiddle Sticks. They do, however, include his other 1962 hit, Fiesta [# 96] and its flip, Hey-Hey-Hey, which was released by the even tinier Emit label.
In 1963 he was back with Chess for Hot Cakes! 1st Serving [# 91 Hot 100 b/w 2nd Serving], and Organ Shout [# 76 Hot 100 b/w Precious You], and then saw another drought until 1966 when Count Down made it to # 91 Hot 100 for Roulette. None of those are included either, although they do give us the B-side to the latter, Summertime (Cha Cha Cha). Also missing is his final hit, an R&B vocal entry called Someone Has Taken Your Place which reached # 45 in 1973 b/w Born Funky for the All Platinum label.
Everything else about this volume is pure Ace, however, from the quality of the sound to the liner notes.
Although now largely forgotten when music history is discussed Cortez is steeped in the roots of blues and boogie-woogie and this album is full tracks reflecting that. On "Piano Shuffle" (track 2), for example, he takes a classic Professor Longhair pattern and uses it to create his own little gem. A lot of the tracks also have saxophones/brass backing as well to add a bit of variation to the Piano/Organ lead.
This really is a fun album, and for the older generation would make make great party music. You cannot help but tap your foot or dance. To put this into a modern context think of (in the UK) Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. Unlike Jools though Dave Cortez never has a large band but these recordings have that same, but even more earthier, quality. Enjoy.