Bobby Jay

Nobody's Child

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Nobody's Child is a collection of 45s and unreleased tracks that represent the cream of Bobby Jay's criminally overlooked catalog. Although never a hit artist (the compliation's liner notes do a fine job of detailing the series of "missed opportunities and personal tragedies" that prevented Jay from attaining the recognition that, considering the depth of his talent, he so richly deserved), Jay was a fine songwriter and an absolutely superb, soulful singer whose best material mates early rock & roll with stone-cold R&B vocals and propulsive Louisiana rhythms. The opening track, "So Lonely" (recorded when Jay was just 17), features a prototypical swamp rock groove. Jay begins the song singing in a lower register, sounding a little like an even tougher Eddie Cochran before he explodes on the chorus with a throaty Alex Chilton-like howl. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Jay's voice only improved with age, and as the chronologically arranged disc progresses, the vocal delivery becomes increasingly filled with subtle nuance. Track 15, "The Fool," sounds like the greatest record Joe Cocker never made, and aside from the cheesy synth-strings, track 16, the beautiful ballad "Born to Lose," could easily draw favorable comparisons to Ray Charles in his prime. As these excellent recordings make crystal clear, the fact that during his lifetime Bobby Jay was virtually unknown outside his home turf of Louisiana and Mississippi is one of the great tragedies of rock & roll and soul music.

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