Bobby Charles

Wish You Were Here Right Now

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An unhurried, engaging singer whose songs ("Walking to New Orleans," "See You Later, Alligator") share the same offhand, lazy ease, Louisiana's Bobby Charles seems fated to be one of those unsung artists whose records are heard only by the fortunate few. While Wish You Were Here Right Now isn't as unified a statement as Charles' 1972 masterpiece, Bobby Charles (produced by the Band's Rick Danko), it is still a minor gem. Revisiting a couple of his biggest songs, and surrounding them with a handful of new ones, Charles' comfortable bayou drawl here is irresistible, and with guest shots from the likes of slide guitar ace Sonny Landreth, fiddler extraordinaire Rufus Thibodeaux, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, and Fats Domino (pulling a cameo on "Walking to New Orleans"), the backing band isn't too shabby, either. Highlights include Domino's guest spot, the heartfelt "I Want to Be the One," a restructuring of "Alligator" as a sprightly New Orleans shuffle, and the Randy Newman-like "Peanut," an unabashed song of praise to a puppy. The music here is timeless, and those lucky enough to hear it will no doubt wonder why Bobby Charles isn't a household name.

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