Writer Tony Russell described Smiley Lewis as the "unluckiest man in New Orleans" because Smiley was the artist who found the formula for "slow rocking, small band numbers" like "Blue Monday" and "I Hear You Knockin'" only to have Fats Domino come along and grab the whole gig. I like Fats' version and Gale Storm's pop version and Dave Edmunds' '70s cover of "I Hear You Knockin'" as well, but to me, the original by Smiley is the best. The tinkling boogie woogie piano and those droning saxes warm the cockles of my crusty old heart. Smiley, you died too young, man. We need you now.
Called by many the "father of rhythm and blues" Louis Jordan (below) is listed as #59 on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Artists of all time. If you're like me you probably thought Little Richard's 1957 cut of "Keep a Knockin'" was the first, but Louis' slower, less frenetic version came out in 1939 (and there are even earlier versions).
Man, I like this kind of stuff. I can see Joyce and me in one of those classy '30s movie-style night clubs drinking champagne and listening to a whole set of Jordan's pre war "jump blues."