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.