Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bill Doggett and His Combo - All His Hits

While the title might be somewhat misleading - Doggett had several charting songs that are not on this collection - this is a solid CD of some of this r'n'b keyboardist's best known work.

Doggett started his first band in 1938 as a pianist and went on to play with Lucky Millinder, Bill Mundy, the Ink Spots and then Louie Jordan where he picked up the Hammond organ and made that his trademark instrument. He formed his Combo in 1952 and became one of the biggest instrumental groups of the 50's with their hit "Honky Tonk" selling 4 million copies and charting for over two months.

His sound is a combination of swinging lounge, light jazz and r'n'b, and his Combo is filled with fine players, though, unfortunately, the liner notes does not mention anyone by name. Doggett's Hammond is, of course, the star, but everyone gets in some nice licks, especially the guitarist, who really makes some of the tunes, including "Honky Tonk". The sax is a great addition, as well, and gives the proceedings a bit more of an r'n'b/early r'n'r feel than they would probably have otherwise.

The CD really picks up when we get to "Honky Tonk" with its dance groove - much more r'n'b/r'n'r than the previous, more lounge-y numbers - wailing sax, and excellent guitar solo. It's no wonder that this was a hit! "Slow Walk" follows and is along the same line - hell, it even has the same beat! - and while Doggett leads on this one, the sax takes over gives it some real power. Wish I knew who this was - he's great!

"Sweet Lorraine" is a bit jazzier, "Don't Get Around Much Any More" (the standard) is well-done jazz/pop with some more cool guitar licks and "Ram-Bunk-Shush" has a growling sax leading the melody and a boppin' beat. "Soft" is a softer, flute-led, lounge number and then "Blip Blop" (gotta love the titles!) is a flute/sax duet over the Combo's dance beat with the title chanted over it all. The guitar gets to takes the intro for "Hold It", another r'n'b-ish/early r'n'r groover and "Smokie (Part Two)" continues in this cool vein and then the CD ends with a remake of "Honky Tonk" with some new leads.

Definitely a swingin' CD with Doggett's mix of r'n'b/early r'n'r and jazzy lounge that somehow all works!