The Big Beat: The Dave Bartholomew Songbook (Ace)

The good folks at Ace Records (distributed by Border Music here in NZ) have just released a 25-song compilation of songs written by the great Dave Bartholomew. Dave was (and, at age 90, still is) one of the greatest bandleaders, producers, musicians and songwriters to come out of New Orleans. It was back in 1949 that he discovered a young Antoine (Fats) Domino and first brought him into a recording studio. That first recording, The Fat Man, kicks of this release. Over the next decade, Dave and Fats wrote and recorded a breath-taking amount of hit records including I’m Walkin’, Blue Monday, I’m In Love Again and Walking To New Orleans.

This collection features Dave Bartholomew compositions recorded by a wide range of artists…some well-known (Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis) and others obscure (The Pelicans, Bobby Mitchell, Annie Laurie). It’s full of unexpected gems like The Johnny Burnette Trio’s rockabilly take of All By Myself, The Upsetters’ version of Every Night About This Time with an unbilled lead vocal by Little Richard, folkie Tom Rush’s surprisingly rocked-out version of I’m In Love Again, soul singer Tami Lynn’s sensuous take on One Night Of Sin and Bobby Charles’ version of Grow Too Old, taken from his hard-to-find 1972 album recorded with The Band backing him. The collection closes with Dave Edmunds’ 1970 version of I Hear You Knockin’ a tune originally recorded by Smiley Lewis in 1954.

The collection features excellent liner notes that give the newcomer a good idea of who Dave Bartholomew is and why he is so important. Plus, there are track-by-track notes full of recording info, stories behind the recordings and general trivia.

Dave Bartholomew was one of the prime movers and shakers in the pre-Elvis rock & roll scene. His influence is still felt today. Anyone remotely interested in the origins of rock & roll needs to hear these tracks.

Marty Duda

Click here to listen to Smiley Lewis’ 1954 recording of Down The Road:

Click here to listen to the Johnny Burnette Trio’s version of All By Myself from 1956: 

I had the pleasure of speaking to Dave Bartholomew in 2002. During our conversation he talks about working with Fats Domino, how he was treated by Imperial Records owner Lew Chudd and his very candid feelings about race in the music business.

Click here to listen to the interview with Dave Bartholomew: