Saturday, February 25, 2012

Here Come the Girls! By Ernie K-Doe

"Here Come the Girls!" is this terrific old-school cut that I heard for the very first time last week. I heard it on one of those obscure public radio stations where DJs can pretty much play anything they want, because they don't have to follow a rigid playlist format. You can find some great underplayed gems (old and new) on stations like these. Anyway, when I got home,  I immediately visited youtube to see if someone had uploaded it there. And, eureka, someone had; youtube is the bomb-diggity sometimesendless ads and abrupt video removals notwithstanding. The song was released in 1970 and is by the late R&B recording artist Ernie K-Doe.

I don't know why I had never heard this great cut before. I guess because it didn't get a lot of radio airplay when it was originally released. The song was written and produced by legendary producer, composer, pianist and arranger Allen Toussaint, and the instrumentation was provided by the Meters, one of the most influential funk bands of all time. The song kicks off with a funky military beat and then jumps into the groove proper. The track is pure ear candy; it is quite irresistible.

The song was forgotten for awhile but then resurfaced in 2007 when UK beauty store and pharmacy chain Boots used the song for a Christmas TV commercial. The popularity of the commercial led to the song being re-released in the UK that same year. It charted at number 43 in the UK, and it went to number 48 in Ireland. This prompted English pop girl group Sugababes to cover the track under the title "Girls" in 2008. The group rewrote the verses but kept the chorus the same as the original. It's a pretty decent cover. The group put a little cheeky sassiness in their version, but K-Doe's original obliterates it in my opinion.

New Orleans native Ernie K-Doe was best known for his mega smash "Mother-in-Law" (1961), which climbed all the way to number one on both the pop and R&B charts in the U.S. and charted at number 29 in the UK. He had a few other minor hits, and he became a popular radio personality in New Orleans after his career as a recording artist began to slow down in the '80s.  Around this time, K-Doe became known for his outrageous, over-the-top persona. He began calling himself "The Emperor of the Universe" and would often wear royal garb.

In 1994, K-Doe and his wife Antoinette opened The Mother-in-Law Lounge, a bar and live music venue in New Orleans. Following K-Doe's death in 2001, Antoinette preserved his memory through the lounge, having it serve as a shrine to her late husband. It has a fully costumed mannequin in K-Doe's likeness among other memorabilia. The lounge was totally destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 but was reopened a year later. In addition to being a singer, K-Doe was also an accomplished drummer.

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