Big Bad Voodoo Daddy: Louie Louie Louie (Savoy Jazz)

Steve Greenlee's review of the influential contemporary swing band

Cover of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy album
Cover of Big Bad Voodoo Daddy album

More than two decades after helping to popularize neo-swing with an appearance in the influential indie flick Swingers and a fun major-label debut album that defied pop-culture norms, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy continues its unabashed adulation of the music that its members’ grandparents probably danced to. BBVD’s style hasn’t evolved one iota since singer-guitarist Scotty Morris and drummer Kurt Sodergren started the band nearly three decades ago, and that’s absolutely fine when you’re covering Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan and Louis Prima, as they do on Louie Louie Louie.

The album comprises 13 covers of tunes associated with those three giants of popular swing. They’re all quite nice. Morris’ voice sounds precisely as it did in 1998, when he released the band’s best-known song, “You & Me & the Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)”—which is a good thing, because this septet (plus guests) is centered on his smooth vocals. These guys don’t do long solos; they’re in and out in 3 1/2 minutes. They’re also adept at internalizing the songs they cover. Prima’s “Oh Marie,” Jordan’s “Ain’t Nobody Here But Us Chickens” and Armstrong’s “Struttin’ With Some Barbecue” sound like they’re from the same songbook. If there’s any problem here, it’s that the songs are all, in fact, quite nice. Morris is awfully polite. The musicians are awfully perfect. The arrangements aren’t risky. The solos are safe. Twenty years ago Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was badass. Now it drives a minivan.

Preview, buy or download songs from the album Louie Louie Louie by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on iTunes.

Steve Greenlee

Steve Greenlee is the managing editor of the Portland Press Herald in Maine and a former longtime editor and jazz critic at The Boston Globe. He plays keyboards in two local cover bands.