A brief history…
Born in 1937 in the small town of Leonville, Louisiana, Camille “Lil” Bob, started his musical career at the tender age of 14, playing the drums for a local artist named Good Rockin’ Bob (of no relation). After 3 years with the group, Little Bob ventured out & formed the Lollipops, and made his recording debut in 1957. There seemed to be no stopping them from there, recording best sellers such as “I Got Loaded,” Nobody But You,” “Agent Double-O Soul,” and more. In the late 50’s and early 60’s, Little Bob & the Lollipops practically soared above the throng, carving their niche in the Swamp Pop Era that took us all by storm. Little Bob has been performing for over 50 years and was elected into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame in 1992.
File this one in the category of Bayou Soul. Opelousas’ Camille “Lil” Bob was a singer/drummer whose horn-laden band worked the South Louisiana club/prom circuit, often playing seven nights a week during the 1960s. Best known for the copiously covered hit “I Got Loaded” (not heard here), he recorded these tracks in Ville Platte in the late ’60s. Largely containing covers from likes of Gene Chandler, James Brown, James Carr and Arthur Conley, this was the material that the Lollipops played hundreds of times on the bandstand. However an original (written by swamp popper Tommy McLain), “Who Needs You So Bad,” serves as the opener. The song is buoyed by a semi-early James Brown horn arrangement, and could be the best song of the lot.
Speaking of Brother James, Bob recycles Brown’s pleading “I Found Someone” and the funky “Cold Sweat,” where Bob requests that the Lollipops “give the drummer some.” Also on the funky side is the dance floor filler “Sweet Soul Music,” done with a dash of St. Landry Parish. The most interesting track here is the treatment of “You Know It Ain’t Right.” The Joe Hinton hit actually served as the template for the South Louisiana standard “Kidnapper” (Van Broussard, Jewel & the Rubies, etc.). Certainly these various versions demand the comparison test by listeners. The sole true Lil Bob original “Peaches (You Got Love)” really is a sweet soul swinger. Hard to believe the original Jin single never took off. Fifteen tracks in all here that capture the South Louisiana soul sound of the ’60s. Would have loved to have seen and heard this band back in the day.
by Jeff Hannusch, OFFBEAT MAGAZINE
When singer Lil Bob turned 75 in 2013, his birthday party was front-page news in the Opelousas Daily World. Bob returned to the hometown headlines when he passed away two years later. Born Camille Bob in 1937 in Arnaudville, the bayou soul and swamp pop singer commanded that much attention in south Louisiana and beyond. Lil Bob and the Lollipops, his big band with horns, sax and piano, proved to be trailblazers.
In an era when racial segregation was the law of the land, Bob and band were a major draw at white and black clubs, such as the Southern Club and Bradford’s White Eagle in Opelousas and the Step Inn Club in Lawtell. Bob even had his own Saturday afternoon TV show on KLFY-TV 10, a pioneering achievement for an African American artist. Such success is ironic for a band that gained popularity by covering James Brown, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Curtis Mayfield and other soul and blues stars of the day. One of Bob’s few originals, “I Got Loaded,” remains a party song five decades later. Los Lobos covered the tune in the hit movie, “Bull Durham.” Blues guitarist Tab Benoit, Robert Cray and “Zydeco Boss” Keith Frank are among the countless artists who have covered the song or perform it live.
Get a taste of what the fuss was all about on a new album, “Sweet Soul Swinger & The JIN Singles,” released on JIN Records in Ville Platte. The 15-song CD is a reissue of the 1968 album, “Sweet Soul Swinger,” and five singles that never made it to an album. “I Got Loaded” is not present. That classic was recorded at the historic La Louisianne Studios in Lafayette and reissued on a 2004 CD by the same name. But “Sweet Soul Swinger” contains soul nuggets that became dancehall hits for Bob, such as “I Don’t Want to Cry,” “You Know It Ain’t Right” and “You’re Pouring Water.” Bob’s gentle treatment of two gorgeous ballads, Curtis Mayfield’s “Keep on Trying” and “Do It Right Now” by gospel/soul singer Roscoe Robinson, rival the originals.
There’s plenty of party music with Arthur Conley’s “Sweet Soul Music” and “Tramp,” the Otis Redding and Carla Thomas hit from 1967. Yours truly wrote updated liner notes for the reissue. But a special treat is the original album notes by the late Paul Thibeaux, aka The House Rocker. Thibeaux was a legendary DJ who had a Saturday afternoon radio show on KVOL 1330 AM. His lively show had tens of thousands of listeners. Many fondly recall his broadcasts today.
In 2017, “The House Rocker” and the “Sweet Soul Swinger” rock and swing again. The music sounds just as sweet.
by Herman Fuselier, Daily Advertiser 11/2017
Mention Lil Bob and the Lollipops to south Louisiana music fans of a certain age and smiles usually crosses their faces. They reminisce about good times at the Southern Club and Bradford’s White Eagle in Opelousas, the Step Inn Club in Lawtell and the Evangeline Club in Ville Platte. Some loudly proclaim that Lil Bob should have been as big as Sam Cooke, Otis Redding or other soul singers of that era.All the fuss is ironic for a singer and drummer who had only one original hit, “I Got Loaded.” Yet that 1965 smash became can be heard in the 1987 movie, “Bull Durham.” It’s still performed by swamp pop, zydeco and blues bands across the globe.
Lil Bob’s undying popularity, before and after that hit, prompted Floyd Soileau to call the band into his JIN studio to record a full album. “He had a hot group and was playing all the different clubs,” recalls Soileau. “His band was like an orchestra with the horn section. He could compete with the big groups, like Bobby Bland and all those guys. They pretty much self produced it in the studio. I just turned some knobs and got the session finished up. The album did quite well over the years.”
Released in the late 1960s, the “Sweet Soul Swinger” album did so well that it’s back in 2017. Here’s the original, 10-song album in its full glory, along with some early singles released on JIN. Fans will recognize the covers of James Brown, Gene Chandler, James Carr and other legends, all marinating in Lil Bob’s flavorful bayou soul.
Born as Camille Bob in 1937 in Arnaudville, Bob died in 2015 after a career that put him into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Bob’s 75th birthday party was front-page news in the Opelousas Daily World, although he had long retired and was in a nursing home. His celebrated talent is no longer just a dancehall memory. The “Sweet Soul Swinger” is still swinging in a new millennium.
by Herman Fuselier