Sunday, September 04, 2005

Alvin 'Red' Tyler: Snake Eyes/Walk On (Ace 45-556)

Alvin 'Red' Tyler may not be a name immediately familiar to you, but to those in the know about New Orleans music, he was a giant.
He played sax on countless records with countless artists, including Little Richard, among many, many others. And he recorded solo material of his own, too, which brings us to this 1959 item from the Jackson, Mississippi label that also gave us Huey 'Piano' Smith, Eddie Bo, Joe Tex and (alas) Jimmy Clanton, again among many others.

How better to describe "Snake Eyes" than to say it has that rollicking boogie sound not too dissimilar from Huey 'Piano' Smith. (It would not be surprising to learn if Smith actually played on this or not. After all, in addition to his own, Smith played on other people's records, too.) It starts off with a rolling drumroll followed by a throbbing piano run. And then, Mr. Tyler gives us a double-sax blast that sends you, the listener, into orbit. The good vibes last as long as it takes for the record to end.

"Walk On" is almost in the same vein as "Snake Eyes" except a chorus singing "Walk on, walk on, walk on, etc." has been added. The chorus kind of dillutes it a little, but the rest of the band is in there slugging it out with Tyler blowing his heart out just for you.

Two-sider? Yeah, I'd say so. A fun record any way you cut it.

Tyler passed away in 1998. Let's all tip our hats to him as one of the people who helped make New Orleans music what it was and what it is.

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