L'il Bob & The Lollipops - I Got Loaded
Camille 'L'il' Bob
I like to sing in the car. There...I said it. Some people sing in the shower. I sing in the car. When I’m driving to or from work (usually the only time I’m alone in the car), and a great song comes on, I’ll start singing at the top of my lungs, drumming on the steering wheel and generally making a fool of myself. I can’t vouch for how this looks from other cars, but I’d guess it falls somewhere between amusing and disturbing (I guess depending on how you process the image of a great big guy covered in tattoos who looks like he’s yelling at no one in particular...). Not every song will send me into such a state. One song that does (every time) is ‘I Got Loaded’ by L’il Bob and the Lollipops. In the service of complete disclosure, I should mention that prior to a few years ago, I had no idea that ‘I Got Loaded’ wasn’t a Los Lobos song (the version I first became familiar with was when they covered it back in 1984). ‘I Got Loaded’ appeared on their LP ‘How Will the Wolf Survive’ and got a fair amount of college radio play at the time. I always liked their recording of the tune, but as I said, had no idea it wasn’t an original. So a few years ago, my buddy Keith sent me a CD called ‘New Orleans Party Classics’, a Rhino comp of old school Mardi Gras hits including cuts by the Hawketts, Al Johnson, Oliver Morgan and others. I popped the disc into the CD player and about halfway through my ears perked up. “HEYYY!”, I thought, “I know this song!”. The tune in question was ‘I Got Loaded’, but the artist was new to me. I popped open the booklet and there was all I needed to know (at least for the moment), about L’il Bob and the Lollipops. I was surprised a second time when I checked the writing credits for the song and discovered that “L’il Bob” was also known as Camille Bob, a name I knew from the very funky 1972 cut ‘Brother Brown’ (Bob recorded funk 45s for the Soul Unlimited and Master Trak labels). It wasn’t too long before I tracked down a copy of the original 45 on the La Louisianne label (a label that still exists to this day). Camille Bob formed the Lollipops in the mid-50’s, recording for the Goldband (see Count Rockin’ Sidney, below), Jin and LaLouisianne labels. By the mid-60’s (“I Got Loaded” came out in 1966) they were performing live every Saturday on the Lafayette, LA TV station KLFY’s “Saturday Hop”. They were equally adept at swamp pop, R&B and soul, and ‘I Got Loaded’ while still a Louisiana fave, is also popular with the Beach Music crowd. They recorded an LP for LaLouisianne, a second LP for Jin a few years later and are still playing today (based out of Houston, TX). “I Got Loaded’ opens with a great guitar riff and is followed quickly by L’il Bob’s high tenor vocals and the horn section. They lyrics are as straight-forward as you’d imagine with a title like ‘I Got Loaded’. Unlike many similar tunes, this not a cautionary tale but rather an endorsement of the intoxicating pleasures of gin, whiskey and wine (variety of course, being the spice of life...). ‘I Got Loaded’ has a swinging, dance friendly tempo and is a perfect mix of swamp pop, R&B and soul (all of which the Lollipops played with equal relish). In addition to the Los Lobos version, ‘I Got Loaded’ has been covered by Robert Cray, Van Broussard, the Boogie Kings and Elvis Costello (as well as appearing on the soundtrack to ‘Bull Durham’). I have also seen a number of references that suggest that that L’il Bob and the Lollipops are covering Texas bluesman Peppermint Harris’s tune of the same name, but having heard his recording I can say that aside from the same title the songs have virtually nothing in common.