It’s hard to tell you how much I love the music of Herman Parker, Jr., better as known as “Junior Parker” (1932 — 1971), who died at a tragically young age of a brain tumor.
He was a great vocalist, harmonica player, and songwriter. Today, he’s probably best known for the Grateful Dead’s desecration of his iconic “Next Time You See Me,” which done right (that is, relaxed, behind the beat, punchy on the stops) is one of the most enjoyable songs to play ever written.
(A particularly painful musical memory is of playing a more-or-less-okay version of the tune a decade ago at a pick-up gig, and hearing a bystander say, “I hate that Grateful Dead shit.” If they only knew . . .)
Junior wrote and recorded prolifically during his tragically short life. His recordings are marked by a very high level of musicianship. a hard-edged but smooth sound that was a mix of Chicago-style, jazz-blues, and R&B; and, oh yeah, he wrote dozens of wonderful originals.
His most recognizable tunes are probably “Next Time You See Me,” and “Mystery Train.” The one I love the best, though, is “Crying for My Baby,” which drives like a mother due to the pushed horn punches on the final triplets of the “2” and “4”; (James Brown probably learned a thing or two from Junior about horn punches.)
The best compilation of his tunes/performances is the long-out-of-print and now way overpriced “Junior’s Blues.” But buy damn near any of the collections, and you´ll be pleasantly surprised.