Wednesday, February 7, 2018

"My Toot Toot" by Jean Knight

Song#:  2309
Date:  05/04/1985
Debut:  84
Peak:  50
Weeks:  15
Genre:  R&B, Novelty

Pop Bits:  Soul singer Jean Knight got her start in the mid-60s with a couple of singles for Tribe Records. Nothing came from them and Knight retreated back to a regular day job. She caught a break when she did some sessions for a songwriter named Ralph Williams. Among the tunes she recorded was one called "Mr. Big Stuff." Initially, no label wanted to release the song, but after a song done by King Floyd during the same sessions ("Groove Me") hit #1 R&B/#6 Pop, champions of the song pushed Stax Records to release the tune. They finally did in 1971 and Knight's "Mr. Big Stuff" went to #1 R&B and #2 Pop. The hit earned Knight a Grammy nod for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female. An album of the same name followed and did well (#8 R&B/#60 Pop), but follow-up singles failed to capture an audience. To make things worse, Knight and Stax didn't get along and she ended up off the label. She continued to record over the next few year with various labels, but nothing clicked. A 1981 album for Cotillion got some good notice, but it still didn't get Knight back on the charts. Four years later, she wound up on the Mirage label singing a remake of Rockin' Sidney's "My Toot Toot." Released as a single, the song got some attention and it wound up reaching #59 at R&B while hitting the halfway point at Pop. Although Knight couldn't parlay the attention into further chart entries, it did boost her name and she has remained a popular touring act.

ReduxReview:  The snazzy accordion of the original (see below) gets traded in for cheezy synths for this remake. It gives the song a cheap 80s sound, but since the tune leans toward novelty, it kinda works. It's a cute little Zydeco diddy and Knight sounds like she's having fun with it. I'm guessing this song was far more popular down south, which probably helped get it on the charts. I can't say that this is something I'd purposely listen to, but it's one of those tunes that could get a crowd dancing at a party or wedding reception. I'd certainly rather hear it than the dreaded "Chicken Dance."

ReduxRating:  5/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of an original song written and performed by Sidney Simien, aka Rockin' Sidney. The Louisiana native was a Zydeco artist who had been making a name for himself as a performer since the late 70s. He wrote and recorded "My Toot Toot" in 1984 and soon it became a regional hit. Enough so that Epic picked up the record for national distribution. The song was marketed to country stations and it ended up getting to #19 on the Country chart. It pushed his associated album to #13 (#166 Pop). As the song was shaping up to be a hit, two artists jumped in to do their own versions. Blues/R&B singer Denise LaSalle covered the tune, but it didn't do anything in the US. However, it was a big hit in the UK getting to #6. Jean Knight's version would be the one that got the song on the US Pop and R&B charts.


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