Set the time machine for 1981, Richard Newell’s then current LP, King Biscuit Boy, produced by Allen Toussaint in New Orleans, had been released in 1974. It was well received but there were frustratingly few recording opportunities after that. Enter Bob “Georgie Fab” Johnston and Darcy Hepner who wanted to get started in the music recording business and who approached Richard. They assembled a stellar cast of musicians at Grant Studios. Only the album never saw the light of day, no label wanted to release more blues and the master ended up in the studio basement. After a basement cleanup, Johnston and Hepner were told about the newly re-discovered tape and they decided to put it out in a limited edition. Re-mastered by none other than Nick Blagona, The Lost Session 1981 was released last fall to a local Hamilton record store and promptly sold out its first run. It’s once again available. Richard Whitehouse is on piano; Bernie LaBarge & Peter Mueller, guitars; Roberto Occhipinti, bass; Claude Desjardins, drums and Darcy Hepner, saxes. On four tracks there is a horn section, a first for Richard: Rocky Verweel, trumpet; Bert Hermiston & Hepner, saxes; Simon Wallis, baritone & Gord Myers trombone. Richard is in superb form, the song selection now fairly well known from his live shows but this is, I think, their first appearance on record and certainly in performances of this calibre. “Bad Luck Soul” with the full horns is the storming opener; Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle” gets a makeover, KBB-style; “Let The Good Times Roll” has a marvellous horn chart to go along with Richard’s powerful vocal & harp; “Blue Light Boogie” was a set list favourite and a single in another setting but here with the full horns and group vocals it’s something special and this roaring version of “Mama Loochie” goes to the top of the list; “Georgia Slop” is even faster and not radio friendly but does include his Elvis impersonation; more gorgeous R&B follows with Bobby Womack’s “I’m In Love”, Hepner adding a lyricon solo; the horns return for “I’m Gonna Play The Honky Tonks”, a 1953 hit for Marie Adams that isn’t heard enough; “Hard Times” shows how well he understood the Ray Charles song. The one Newell original is “Goodnight”, a fantastic groove of a set closer with the full horns behind his harp. After such an amazing session, it must have been a huge disappointment in an already troubled life that it was not released. However, we can have it now and it adds significantly to his discography and his legacy. Get in touch with Dr. Disc in Hamilton as soon as you can. If you have trouble finding this one, five of the songs have been available on an album called Two Hound Blues, a posthumous release put together by Richard’s friend Sonny Del-Rio. The other songs on this CD are by Richard and Sonny from a different session. This album is on Spotify.

July 2018 - Spencer MacKenzie
Loose Blues News - July 2018