Dirty Rhythm & Blues records can be a bit tough to find. And oftentimes, like with Doug Clark & His Hot Nuts’ records, they can be a bit bland & disappointing. There have been plenty of obscene gems in the genre released as singles, classics like Bullmoose Jackson’s “Big-Ten Inch Record” (I have this 78 for sale by the way), The Clovers’ “Rotten Cocksucker’s Ball” and Boozoo Chavis’ “Uncle Bud”. But a full-length dirty R&B release is a pretty rare thang. And this LP by Roscoe Holland fits the bill. Holland’s vocals are wild & loose, and he also plays a very nice R&B/Boogie Blues style piano, accompanied by some minimalist blues drumming. This isn’t flat out obscene, but it’s certainly dirty. Released in 1961 on Dootoo Records, this is like Redd Foxx meets Little Willie Littlefield.
To make this record even more unique, at the time of this release, the Texas-born Holland was living & touring around Alaska of all places! He had been living there a whole decade! From the liner notes: “Roscoe Holland is the original Red Hot Papa who went to Alaska to melt the snow. His low-down piano playing and spicy vocalizing has kept the temperature up to white-heat in Fairbanks. Here, in this sultry, sex-loaded album, is ample proof why Roscoe is the ribald rage of Alaska and one of the most explosive forces that brought the 49th state into the Union.”
Like my man Lou Curtiss, I’m a sucker for those old dirty songs, and this LP has got some good ones. Holland does a whacked out R&B version of “Mule Train” that largely consists of stuttering & cutting himself short from cursing repeatedly. His manic version of “Down the Road (For) a Piece” is about an edge of town establishment called Grandma’s Place where you can get “anything in this world, from 20 cents to 20 dollars”. His version of “Yo Yo” has to be one of the absolute best R&B songs about playing with oneself.
Holland’s rompin’ version of the “Call of the Freaks”, entitled “Stick Out Your Can” is a lot like Jesse Powell’s “The Walkin’ Blues”, setting the listener up with some filthy rhymes and then saying something else instead. A very entertaining play on words. His excellent version of “Jambalaya” entitled “Bijou” is wonderfully random, consisting a lines like “Some son of a bitch threw a brick through my window, he missed my head but it hurt my baby’s little fingow” & “Chocolate coated sardines & good ol’ banana puddin’, for tonight I’m gonna shoot the words to ol’ Sally Goodin'”.
I’ve heard these versions of “Foul Mule Train” and “Stick Out Your Can” featured on some killer R&B compilations, but otherwise this release isn’t all that well known.
Roscoe Holland’s For A Piece (Dootoo Records, 1961) is available here at Folk Arts for a mere $12! You can find it in my New Arrivals section.
Here’s the only track available on the tube. You gotta come down to hear the rest!