I'll Forget You

John Roberts I'll Forget You b/w Be My Baby 45 (Duke, 1968)

Don't know nuthin' 'bout John Roberts except he made a couple great singles produced by one Bob Garner for Duke Records out of Houston, Texas. I know a little about Duke Records though. Duke started in Memphis 1952 and had early success with Johnny Ace. After a year, Peacock Records' Don Robey got Duke's owners to merge labels with him and soon after Robey was in control. Robey's Peacock had had more success than Duke at that point - with Clarance "Gatemouth" Brown, the Dixie Hummingbirds, the Sensational Nightingales, etc. - and was always to be the dominant label, even with hits by Bobby "Blue" Bland and Junior Parker. From the Peacock/Duke operation, Robey created Back Beat, which had hits with OV Wright and Roy Head. In 1973, Robey sold the labels to ABC-Dunhill.

Though Robey produced many of the records he put out and his name is usually somewhere on a release, it isn't on this one. Instead we get mystery producer Bob Garner, who could be Robey under a pseudonym or it could be Bob Garner. Whoever it is, both of John Roberts songs have the sound you hear on Robey's records - well recorded though not slick, punchy without forsaking a groove, and a bit of smokiness to the sound.

"I'll Forget You" is one of my favorite Duke sides. A vocal melody partially copped from "Summertime" and a groove that is deadly, the centerpiece of the song is the wicked guitar playing, sort of a funky chicken with a twitch. Also notable is the minimalist horn arrangement. The flip - "Be My Baby" - is also a good and would be Crud material all by itself, if not for it's funkiness than for the list of dances and songs Roberts cites.

Both sides are great, thanks for posting this one! Will have to keep an eye out for it, but I rarely see Duke singles that aren't by B"B"B (nothing wrong with those).
Dy-no-MITE! Damn, that guitarist on "I'll Forget You" is sho' 'nuff funky. Steve Cropper doin jobs on the side?
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