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Rockie Charles - Born for You (REVIEW - Living Blues)

Orleans OR-1911

Perhaps inspired by the blues success of New Orleans cab driver Mem Shannon, Orleans has come up with an album by Crescent City tugboat captain Rockie Charles Merrick. Charles is no stranger to the recording studio, however, having first recorded for Senator Jones' Black Patch label in 1967. His biggest success, The President of Soul, was issued on his own Soulmate imprint two years later.

Charles wrote all the songs on Born For You and sings them in a voice that sounds like a fractured blend of Otis Redding and Al Green. The arrangements also owe more to 1960s deep soul than to New Orleans R&B, and some of the songwriting is, to put it mildly, idiosyncratic. For example, on Festis Believe in Justice we get the lines: "A dedicated man doing the best that he can/Working his heart out for the citizens of Cheyenne."

Though Charles is pictured with a guitar in several photos and has played in the bands of O.V. Wright and Percy Sledge, Born For You is not a guitar-driven album - Charles limits himself to background playing and the occasional intro, and the guitar is no more prominent than the horns, organ, or female vocal duo. Indeed, the only solo space on the whole disc is the brief spot for Jerry Embree's tenor sax at the end of the title track - truly remarkable nowadays.

Born For You is a heartfelt effort that should appeal to those who are looking for something off the beaten path.

---Jim DeKoster


Born for You / Old Black Joe / Oh My Darling, Look What You're Doing to Me / Festis Believe in Justice / Please Tell Me It Ain't So / Something Is Wrong With Our Love / I Need Your Love So Bad, I'm About to Lose My Mind / Don't Let Me GO / I Just Called to Wish You a Merry Christmas / I Like to Make Love When It's Pouring Down Rain / There Is a Rainbow Hangin' Over My Shoulder


Originally published in Living Blues: The Magazine of the African-American Blues Tradition #132 (March/April 1997), Vol. 28, No. 2


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