Drum Breaks: Quebec Style pt 3- Les Mersey's
In the the 1999 book, Ego Trip's Book Of Rap Lists, there is a list of "A Few Of Biz Markie's Favorite Things," meaning things he owns. In between the mundane (his collection of Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots) and the mythical (his 12" copy of "Take Me To Mardi Gras" by Bob James that has no bells on the drum intro), he lists "my collection of every version of 'Get Out My Life, Woman.'"
"Get Out Of My Life, Woman" was written by Allen Toussaint and originally recorded by Lee Dorsey in 1966. It starts out with a monster drum break. The drum break seems so important to the feel of the song, you can't really cover the song effectively without it. So, someone buying records for breakbeats would probably buy every version of "Get Out Of My Life, Woman" they could get their hands on, from Iron Butterfly to Bill Cosby.
However, I am going to bet that Biz didn't have Les Mersey's version back in 1999. I have never heard anyone else talk about it, and since there is no indication by its French title as to what song it is, it would most likely evade a label reading beat digger back in the day.
The career arc of Les Mersey's is very representative of that of Quebecois beat groups as a whole. They formed in 1964, having previously played together in a band called The Blue Men (who I am guessing were an instrumental combo based on The Shadows or the Ventures, though this is purely conjecture on my part). They added a vocalist in 1964 and started playing R&B and British Invasion covers (the name "Les Mersey's" being derived from the Mersey River in Liverpool, and term "Mersey beat," usually applied to the Beatles, Gerry and the Pacemakers, and other Liverpudlian bands). They ended their career around 1970, with their last LP coming out in 1969. It consists mostly of a mix of bubblegum pop covers and originals. However, the last track on the album, "Freakout," is aptly named and you can hear the drummer get his:
I don't own this record, having never come across it cheaply. It sort of pains me to blow up my own spot and post about it before it lies in my hot little hands, but the game is sometimes meant to be told, not sold.
Since this post is about giving the drummer some, might as well shine a light on the drummer giving it to us. In this case, it's Richard Tate, who went on to have a long career, playing and recording with Les Sinners, Boule Noire, Michel Pagliaro, Nanette Workman, Johnny Hallyday, and many more. He also recorded a few records as band leader. The first Tate a tete has more of a rock feel, though there are a wide variety of tracks on the album. I've put two of my favorite tracks from this record "Ce N'est Jamais Mon Tour" and "J'Viens De M'Reveiller" at the bottom of the page.
The 2nd, Richard Tate, is more of a funk record, and was recorded using Muscle Shoals sidemen like Roger Hawkins and David Hood. In fact, Tate doesn't even play drums on it, focusing instead on singing, writing, and arranging. It still has some moments.
Comment Peux-Tu Me Quitter- Les Mersey's (Get Out Of My Life, Woman)
Ce N'est Jamais Mon Tour- Richard Tate
J'Viens De M'Reveiller- Richard Tate