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Little Georgie and the Shufflin' Hungarians
Queen Bee Brand Records CD unnumbered, 1994.

 "People let me tell ya, there ain't nothin' mo' meaner than havin' your toes sucked on by Satan's vacuum cleaner... " -- L'il Georgie

L'il Georgie (George Rossi) must be the hardest working man in Syracuse show business. He's writing all the tunes, singing all the songs, playing all the keyboards, writing all the horn arrangements, you name it. I can't quite put my finger on it, but Georgie seems to leap out at you from every direction as soon as you flip open the jewel case. He's like your best friend who has this band that you just gotta see, right. C'mon. I'll put you on the list. Bring some friends. Bring your folks. I'll buy you a drink. I'll buy me a drink.

All right already, Georgie. I like it. I really like it. I didn't want to, but I admit it, I do. I believe you now, Georgie. You're right about the Hungarians. You're right about the George-O-Lettes. You guys are pretty good, and I even mean that.

This eponymous first release from "quite arguably the best New Orleans style band operating outside of Louisiana" (don't tell Steve Ferguson -- see our review) is a pretty tasty little slice of voodoo rhythm and boogie. It's rough around the edges, but eminently likable, and liable to grow on you if you give it a chance. The highs easily outnumber the lows, and you can tell they mean it. That's more than most can say.

While they bill themselves as a second-line, cajun-spiced r&b orchestra, I hear as much Billy (Vera) and the Beaters (and maybe even a little Meatloaf) as I do Professor Longhair and Dr. John. The tunes run the gamut from skunky swamp blues to big swing rave-ups. Throughout, the George-O-Lettes add delicious backing harmonies and response to Georgie's "cigarette chafed" wail and call. And, of course, the centerpiece is Georgie's insistent Crescent City ivory pounding. I wish the recording did more to advance the cause. The scales are tipped uncomfortably toward the high end of the spectrum. The "12' Steinway B" and tuba are likely to get sizzled out by the hi hat. Fine work by the Hungarian Horns sometimes ends up sounding like a cheap synthesizer. I'd forgive all for a well balanced live recording of the orchestra in full swing. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Georgie has one in the bag by now. [Indeed! The next release from the hardest working man in Syracuse is a live two-CD set. --  Glenn Brooks]

If you happen to be in the Syracuse area (or Wilkes-Barre, PA, the other place they play), you might want to stop by and pick up a copy of this CD before they run out. The liner notes fold out into a Dante-Esquivel vision of the band suitable for something. Or order it direct (see below).

Bless his heart, Georgie intends to be a success. But you know, I found myself wishing he just didn't try quite so hard. Georgie's kind of like that real tasty little lunch spot on State Street with the sign that's way too big. Just keep that be-bim-bop coming, Georgie. We know you're there. --  Jason Staczek

production notes

L'il Georgie, vocals, piano, Hammond B-3, Wurlitzer electric piano, percussion.
The Amazin' Rhythm Dicks: Big Daddy Paul LaRonde, bass, funk-u-lators, vocals; Mark Tiffault, drum-u-lators, foot pro-peddlers, percussion.
The Hungarian Horns: Frank Gross, baritone and tenor saxes; Don "Diego" Williams, tenor and alto saxes, flute; Jeff "The W.A.S.P. Love God" Stockham, trumpet, valve trombone, alto horn, baritone horn and tuba.
The George-O-Lettes: Gail Sampson, soprano; Jackie Clarke, alto; Angela Washington, bass.
The Man From Trinidad: Irvin Daniel, percussion and good vibes. and many other "special ghosts"

Produced by L'il Georgie and Bob Francis Acquaviva, engineered and mixed by Bob Francis Acquaviva, mastered by Tim Gilles.

of related interest

Little Georgie and the Shuffling Hungarians
 Live from Styleen's Rhythm Palace, Syracuse, NY, Queen Bee Brand Records 2xCD QB 96662, 1996
True to Jason's request, here is a live twofer from Georgie and the crew. Get 'em both at the Georgie home page, or write to them at:
Queen Bee Brand Records
Box 308
Syracuse NY 13208
(315) 449-0967

Billy and the Beaters
 By Request: Best of Billy and the Beaters, Atlantic/Rhino CD 70858-2 (54:38)

Copyright © 1996 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.