Late At Night (1994)

The Subdudes

Written by John Magnie, Joe Cabral and Rodney Hodges
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Slave Shacks edgard LA

Preserved slave shacks in Edgard

The Subdudes are considered to be among the great “lost bands” of America. The original lineup broke up in 1996 and as of 2014 are just reuniting for a limited concert tour.

“Late At Night” rocks the skunk hour away, a compact dynamo of a song that incorporates all the elements of the field gumbo you would expect by a band from Edgard, Louisiana. The majority of its members grew up in the town of 2,500 just 35 miles west of the Big Easy.

It’s got Delta R&B, Zydeco, Swamp Rock, an exotic folkiness, and a fairly large influence from groups like The Band, especially in The Subdudes’ rhythms. They been listening to Levon in the wee hours. Dr. John, The Night Tripper, can also be sniffed out, shadowing around the edges of their music.

Tom Malone rips the belly of the tune open with an opening guitar riff that disappears in the funky rhythms then reappears intermittently throughout. He brings new meaning to the expression “bending notes.” His are about as bent as can be without breaking strings. He’s got a bit of Danny Whitten’s early work with Crazy Horse and Neil Young. And he’s channeling Robbie Robertson pretty hard, although he does showboat more than Robbie.

“Late At Night”

Malone also belts out a soulful vocal performance, a lament of the alcohol-drenched party animal who knows very well that he’ll get up and do it again, and again.

The song dwells on hard-partying late nights and the consequences the next day. This is a band that never met a hangover it didn’t like because – what the hell – the party the night before was killer. Of course, when those bleary eyes, throbbing head and half-remembered careless words float through the mush-melon brain, you’re gonna feel like a fool.

Late at night, I’m goofy like a clown
Early in the mornin’, I’m just tryin’ to live it down
Late at night, I do just like I please
Early in the mornin’, I get down upon my knees

AnnunciationLate at night, I held the truth in my hand
Just like a little shiny jewel
Early in the mornin’, I look in the mirror
I see the same old fool

I’m praying, “Lord, you got to help me now
Lord, you got to help me now”
I’m praying, “Lord, you got to help me now
Lord, you got to help me now”

Originally The Subdudes worked without a full drum set, inserting instead just a set of tambourines, which may have been novel, but held the gang back. On Annunciation, the album from which “Late At Night” leaps like a bullfrog in mating season, a full kit is employed and works wonders.

Subdudes

The Subdudes: John Magnie, Tommy Malone, Steve Amedée and Johnny Ray Allen

This is one cooking ensemble, capturing every twisted road, every bog, every crawfish run, every fruit jar of moonshine. They’re lightning on audio tape. They make you tilt your shoulder, bob your head, swivel your hips. They excel at harmony singing, which brings just the right degree of gospel in for white boys. They’re influenced but not in thrall to exact reenactment of choir vocals.

 

The same goes for the use of the Cajun accordion lines that tippy-toe through “Late At Night.” They sure-handedly stitch together the crazy quilt of roots and shoots, but are completely unaffected. These old boys could be their grand pappies just as soon as a contemporary Rock band.

Late at night, all my neighbors come to call
Early in the mornin’, I hear them bangin’ on the wall
Late at night, I blow in like a hurricane
Early in the mornin’, it’s just a steady, steady rain

Oh, late at night, I’m a rippin’ and a roarin’
Enough to wake the dead
Early in the mornin’, well, I can barely find the strength
To raise my aching head

I pray, “Lord, you got to help me now
Lord, you got to help me now”
I’m praying, “Lord, you got to help me now
Lord, you got to help me now”

Late at night

mangoids
  • Tom Malone is brother of Dave Malone, guitarist for The Radiators.
  • Speaking of The Subdudes’ tambourine/drummer player, Malone said: “Amedée seemed to be the magic ingredient. The simplicity of his drumming, and the addition of his voice – he’s a great harmony singer. It was the simplicity – boiling all the stuff down, focusing on a song instead of a lot of noise.”

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