Truth in advertising—that’s the bare facts on this quartet. With the Impressions’ Jerry “Iceman” Butler, silk-hat-topped killer Gene “Duke of Earl” Chandler and soulful crooner Ben E. King (late of the Drifters), it’s a mind-bendingly great package, yet with the inclusion of New Orleans rhythm and blues boss Lloyd Price, the whole shebang is likely to go into orbit.
Price was just a green high school kid when he cut his first record, the magnificently rough-hewn “Mailman Blues,” and he was already sitting on a song that turned out to be one of the big KO’s of 1952, “Lawdy Miss Claudy.” Recorded at Cosmo’s, the infamous Crescent City hit factory, it featured the mighty Dave Bartholomew band, including Fats Domino on piano, and created a turbulent, seductive sound that brought New Orleans R&B right into the wild sphere of raw rock & roll. The disc ignited Price’s career like a fireball hurtling out of Krakatoa; his easy, greasy vocals—slightly petulant, soul-stirring, at once crisply elegant and deliciously casual—set him on a dream-like course (he even, bless him, helped a then unknown Little Richard get a record deal), and he pumped out a string of classic hits, including the mythic beer joint mayhem of “Stagger Lee” and the gleaming pop razzle-dazzle of “Personality,” before he seemingly fell off the face of the earth in the late ‘60s. Price finally re-emerged in the late ‘90s, sounding as fantastic as ever, and this stellar R&B summit is sure to feature more than a few profound thrills. (Jonny Whiteside)
4 Kings of R&B at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, 777 San Manuel Blvd., Highland, (800) 359-2464; www.sanmanuel.com. Thurs., Dec. 7, 9 p.m. $20-$40.