“Life Can Be A Hard Road To Travel Blues & Jumpin’ R&B 1949-1961” - Joe “Mr. Google Eyes” August
Released August 2023, Jasmine Records
Reviewed August 2023 by by Jailhouse John Alexander
Buy the album here: https://jasmine-records.co.uk/.../3720-joe-mr-google-eyes...
Joseph Charles Augustus, from New Orleans - known as “Google Eyes”, as he had an enthusiastic eye for the ladies - was a popular R&B singer between the late 40s and early 60s. He recorded prolifically between 1949-61, for ten different record labels, including Coleman, Columbia, OKeh, DeLuxe, Duke and Instant working with different bands in the process.
01 Young Boy by Mr. Google Eyes And His 4 Bars - Some fancy piano playing and a strong bass line open for this fine piece of R&B. A good jiver with a bluesy guitar break followed by great saxophone. A heartfelt story of a 16 year old paper seller and the temptations he faced!
02 Poppa Stoppa’s Be Bop Blues by Mr. Google Eyes And His 4 Bars – Joe made his recording debut in 1946 for the Coleman record label, with this track, on which he was credited as "Mr. Google Eyes -- the world's youngest blues singer". The song became a local hit with its nice blues number and a good vocal performance from Joe.
03 Rough And Rocky Road by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Orchestra – From the sound I would say this is an earlier version of track 6. A good jump blues number nonetheless.
04 No Wine, No Women by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Orchestra – The A side of “Rough And Rocky Road” – a very nice R&B double sider.
05 For You My Love by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Musical V-8’s – Good jump blues number from 1949 when it was issued on Columbia in the USA.
06 Rough And Rocky Road by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Musical V-8’s – Another track from 1949 on the OKeh label. Great interplay between the tenor and bass saxophones.
07 I’m Glad You’re Comin’ Home by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Musical V-8’s – Joe again shows that he is not just a “blues shouter”, but is also a capable blues singer with this ballad.
08 No Wine, No Women by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Musical V-8’s – Extra backing vocals and better sound quality makes this my favourite of the two versions of this song on this CD Recorded in 1951.
09 Love Me by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Musical V-8’s – Another Columbia release from 1949. Joe is supported with backing vocals as well as some great playing from the band. A fine example of jump blues and again, some great sax playing.
10 Life Can Be A Hard Road To Travel by Mr. Google Eyes With Billy Ford And His Musical V-8’s – I really like the piano and guitar work on this blues ballad. All the atmosphere of a smoke filled “hole in the wall bar” where generous measures of rough whiskey are poured for the clientele.
11 Cryin’ For You by Mr. Google Eyes With René Hall’s Orchestra – This was recorded for the New York based Domino label in 1950. Another heartfelt blues ballad from Joe.
12 Rock My Soul by Mr. Google Eyes With René Hall’s Orchestra – Back to classic jump blues with the B side of “Cryin’ For You”.
13 Japoline by Mr. Google Eyes With René Hall’s Orchestra – Another uptempo jump blues track with a distinct Louis Jordan feel.
14 Bad Nerves by Mr. Google Eyes With René Hall’s Orchestra – A slow blues track with Joe’s singing at his best. It sounds like it has been mastered from a disc but it is enjoyable.
15 I Cried by Mr. Google Eyes – The sound of a person crying sets the tone for this blues ballad that features Lee Allen, on alto saxophone and Paul Gayten on piano. Recorded in 1950.
16 Just To Be Home With You by Mr. Google Eyes – A mid paced blues number.
17 My Old Love by Mr. Google Eyes With Charlie Singleton And His Band – The band provides a solid boogie-woogie rhythm, a good sax break and some nice piano playing. Forty years old is too old for Joe!
18 Whose Little Who Are You by Mr. Google Eyes With Charlie Singleton And His Band – This is the A side of “My Old Love” issued on Lee records in 1950. Both sides are good jivers.
19 O What A Fool by “Mr. Goggle Eyes” August With Johnny Otis Band – A good stroller from the Texas based Duke label, released in 1956.
20 Play The Game by “Mr. Goggle Eyes' August With Johnny Otis Band – A jazzy, blues ballad that was on the other side of “O What A Fool”.
21 Lead Us On by “Mr. Goggle Eyes” August With Johnny Otis Band – Also released on the Duke label, this is a soulful/gospel duo with a female singer whose name I do not know. A Texas release with a New Orleans feel.
22 Oh, Ho Doodle Lu by “Mr. Goggle Eyes” August With Johnny Otis Band – The other side of “Lead Us On” a good jiver with some great piano playing underpinning Joe’s voice.
23 Strange Things Happening In The Dark by Joe (Mr. G) August – This dates from the mid 50s and was issued on the Flip label in California. Don’t be put off by the morbid intro this is Joe and his “blues shouting” best.
24 Boogie With Calypso by Joe (Mr. G) August – An interesting mix of calypso and boogie-woogie. The boogie is the dominant force.
25 Everything Happens At Night by Joe (Mr. G) August – A power vocal performance by Joe is the main feature of the blues track.
26 Tell Me by Joe (Mr. G) August – A quirky, up tempo track with backing vocals giving a soulful feel.
Summary and Recommendation: If, like me, you are a fan of Louis Jordan, Wynonie Harris, Joe Turner, Jackie Brenston et al you really should get this excellent compilation from Jasmine. Until this came along I had not heard of Joe August and I now realise that I have been missing out on some great R&B.