Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Eldridge Holmes - An Open Letter (To My Love)

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The Mighty Eldridge Holmes
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Howdy, doodies. I’m going to try to keep this short today, as I have come down with a wicked case of strep throat, and feel like deep-fried (but lightly salted) crap. Today’s selection is by one of my all time fave NOLA artists, and was for a long time a personal holy grail. I finally tracked it down a few years ago, and just dug it out for blog-I-fication this past week. The record I speak of is ‘An Open Letter To My Love’ by the mighty Eldridge Holmes. I decided to run it today for two reasons. Numero One-O: I already laid down the long form story on the late great Mr. Holmes over at the Funky16Corners web zine a while back. The skinny – as the kids say – can be gotten over there. Number Dos: It’s as solid a slice of deep soul balladry as I’ve ever heard, and wanting to get a few ballads up in the blog, I decided (being “the decider”) that now would be a good time. You need only read my piece on Holmes (and a previous blog entry) to see that I hold his work in the highest possible esteem. He was an amazing singer, who laid down R&B, soul, and funk equally well, as well as being another one of the names, close to the top of the ‘New Orleans Singers That Should have Been Huge” list. ‘An Open Letter To My Love’ was the A-side of what I believe to be Holmes very last 45, recorded in 1972. Unfortunately, when I found my copy, it was a promo with the same song on both sides, so I still can’t tell you what the B-side, ‘Let’s Go Steady’ sounds like. It’s also notable as the only record in the Holmes discography that is not Allen Toussaint-associated. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have an impeccable Crescent City pedigree, having been composed (both sides) by Charles Brimmer and produced by the great Senator Jones (‘Miniskirt Dance’ et al) on Earl King’s Kansu imprint. I used to think - because both sides of the 45 were Brimmer compositions - that maybe Jones brought Holmes in and record over existing Brimmer tracks, yet I haven’t been able to find any trace of Brimmer having recorded these tunes. The arrangement is taken at a slow pace, allowing Holmes to get in some old-school, down home pleading. The bluesy horns and tremelo guitar provide perfect backing for Holmes monumental performance. Listening to this track (or any Eldridge Holmes record for that matter) leaves you feeling cheated that he spent the last 26 years of his life out of the recording studio. He only managed to record 33 sides in a little over a decade. While he was certainly not the only great New Orleans singer to meet such an unjust fate, his great talent makes his situation seem all the crueler.As far as I know this song has never been comped, and although I’ve said this many times before (I’ll say it again here), the time is long since past for a label like Sundazed to issue a comprehensive collection of Eldridge Holmes recordings.

6 Comments:

Blogger MadPriest said...

It is not in keeping with my profession to wish illness on any of God's creatures; but if your present bout of under-the-weatherness has led you to a melancholia that has given us this glorious piece of heartfelt soul, then may you, at least, take a little time in getting back to full health.

5/03/2006 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Donnie trismegistus said...

Just referred to your site the other day, and I can't tell you how pleased I am. I lived in New Orleans until I was seventeen. James Booker is my hero, but this--this is amazing. I hear it and don't think Big Easy. I think Memphis or Macon. Thanks immeasurably.

5/03/2006 05:07:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Phillips said...

Nice job of decidin'. Truly a great one, Larry, to be Holmes' last. That this man was overlooked in his day (a national label should have picked this up!) and nearly forgotten is a travesty. And, I think you are correct that Charles Brimmer never recorded either this one or the flip. Hope you get rid of that bug real soon, too.

5/04/2006 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger awopbopaloobopalopbamboom said...

Hi! I'l a french man so sorry for the language...Thanks to your blog, i wanna open my own blog with some mp3 of soul artists or anything... But i don't manage to send mp3... If you know the way to send mp3 to blogger, that's very nice to you...

5/05/2006 08:47:00 AM  
Blogger Darcy said...

Great stuff. Sign me up to the Eldridge Holmes fan club.

5/07/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger dianne",) said...

ei, ahm keep it up men..
i admire every single word that most describe what you have gone through your life.. godbless
just enjoy what you're doing..
and for sure you'll get more in return

1/07/2008 08:30:00 PM  

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