Louis Prima swung in the 20's, swayed in the 30's and bopped in the 40's. After decades of inspired composing, trumpeting, bandleading, singing and vamping, Prima hit his creative peak in the late 50's and early 60's where he rightfully ruled the musical roost in Las Vegas, Planet Earth and the swingin' galaxies beyond. There was no one alive or dead that didn't dig the sounds of Louis Prima. The late 60's and 70's weren't as sympathetic to his talents, but as long as there was a dark cocktail lounge and the broads ran hot and cold, Prima valiantly swung on through the love beads and the incense and when duty called, the peppermint schnapps. No slouch in the progressive jazz department, Prima jumped on the hippie/experimental sound with the dizzy ferocity of a beatboxing Joe Franklin. Keeping it contemporary, Prima traded in his Gleeby Rhythm for two suitcases of the finest tan Naugahyde threads and hit the 70's like a custard pie on a mound of shit. The liner notes to The Prima Generation '72 say it all:
The PRIMA GENERATION is now, yesterday and tomorrow. If you're 2 or 82, there is a place for YOU in the PRIMA GENERATION.
I picked up The Prima Generation '72 a few years ago at the WFMU Record Fair. I rode back home on the subway, pretending nonchalantly to be holding the Greatest Record of All Time, little realizing the vinyl mystery that I newly possessed. Conceived to cash in on That-Which-Cannot-Be-Cashed-In-On, Prima slides through a dozen rotten cow pies on this LP, surfing a musical smegma at the tail end of a long and storied career. From questionable covers ("I Never Promise You a Rose Garden," "It's Impossible") to inept originals ("What you Hear is What You've Got"), Louie ladles on the charm like flies on day old shrimp scampi, all the while employing an impeccable artlessness that borders on narcolepsy. As late career-defining hunks of glop go, Louis and the gang confidentially nail several coffins shut all at once on this clunker. Truth is, this record kinda stinks.
One crummy instrumental on the album is distinguished by its tantalizing title: Sympathy for the Devil (M. Jagger-K. Richards) A bizarre hybrid of Hugo Montenegro and Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Prima's take on Sympathy is a bewildering, jazzy mess that shares a similarity to the Stones original in name only. It starts out like the Schenectady Playhouse production of Jesus Christ Superstar and then it devolves into a soundtrack for a porno movie featuring squirrel puppets--and you wanna know something? It's the best track on the LP. I guess this is the equivalent of The Surfsiders recording Bitches Brew.
Sympathy for the Devil (mp3)