Smiley Lewis : I Heard You Knocking

Smiley Lewis : I Heard You Knocking


Smiley Lewis (vocal, guitar), Dave Bartholemew (trumpet), Lee Allen, Herb Hardesty, Alvin “Red” Tyler (tenor sax), Clarence Ford (baritone sax), Salvador Doucette, Edward Frank, Joe Robichaux, Huey Smith (piano), Justin Adams, Edgar Blanchard, Ernest McLean (guitar), Frank Fields (bass), George French (bass guitar), Robert French, Earl Palmer, Charles “Hungry” Williams (drums)

Imperial 9141

Pure Pleasure Records : LP 180 gram

Brand New and Sealed Record

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A1 - The Bells Are Ringing
A2 - Standing on the Corner
A3 - Blue Monday
A4 - Down the Road
A5 - Lost Weekend
A6 - Real Gone Lover
B1 - Bumpity Bump
B2 - I Hear You Knocking
B3 - I Can't Believe It
B4 - Hey Girl
B5 - One Night
B6 - Nothing But the Blues

Recorded in 1961

As the New Orleans R&B sound developed rapidly during the early '50s, so did Lewis. He scored his first national hit in 1952 with "The Bells Are Ringing," but enjoyed his biggest sales in 1955 with the exultant "I Hear You Knocking" (its immortal piano solo courtesy of Huey Smith.

Dave Bartholomew has often been quoted to the effect that Smiley Lewis was a "bad luck singer," because he never sold more than 100,000 copies of his Imperial singles. In retrospect, Lewis was a lucky man in many respects — he enjoyed stellar support from New Orleans' ace sessioneers at Cosimo's, benefited from top-flight material and production (by Bartholomew), and left behind a legacy of marvelous Crescent City R&B. We're lucky he was there, that's for sure.

Born with the unwieldy handle of Overton Lemons, Lewis hit the Big Easy in his mid-teens, armed with a big, booming voice and some guitar skills. He played clubs in the French Quarter, often with pianist Tuts Washington (and sometimes billed as "Smiling" Lewis) .In front of the Crescent City's hottest players (saxists Lee Allen, Clarence Hall, and Herb Hardesty usually worked his dates), Lewis roared like a lion. Strangely, Fats Domino fared better with some of Smiley Lewis' tunes than Lewis did ("Blue Monday" in particular). Similarly, Elvis Presley cleaned up the naughty "One Night" and hit big with it, but Lewis's original had already done well in 1956. By then, stomach cancer was eating the once-stout singer up. He died in the autumn of 1966, all but forgotten outside his New Orleans home base.

The ensuing decades have rectified that miscarriage of justice, however. Smiley Lewis' place as one of the greatest New Orleans R&B artists of the 1950s is certainly assured. It's magnificent, exuberant R&B, and deserved a much better national fate than it enjoyed. 

This Pure Pleasure LP was remastered using pure analogue components only, from the original analogue studio tapes through to the cutting head and was pressed with virgin vinyl at Pallas.