Louis Armstrong: This Black Cat Has 9 Lives

Track

This Black Cat Has 9 Lives

Artist

Louis Armstrong (vocals)

CD

Louis Armstrong and His Friends (RCA/Bluebird 090266396122)

Buy Track

Musicians:

Louis Armstrong (vocals), Kenny Burrell (guitar), Chuck Rainey (bass), Bernard Purdie (drums), Thad Jones (trumpet), Marvin Stamm (trumpet, flugelhorn), Quentin Jackson (trombone), Oliver Nelson (arranger, conductor).

Composed by Lorenzo Pack

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Recorded: New York, May 29, 1970

Armstrong

Rating: 81/100 (learn more)

Talk about sloganeering. On one of the weirdest straightforward jazz recordings of all time, Louis "Pops" Armstrong interprets a cachet of lyrics that, on the surface, refer to the perceived unluckiness of black cats. According to the song, they continue to survive amidst a myriad of challenges and obstacles.

However, upon deeper inspection, a simile arises between the befallen animal and that of black Americans during the Civil RIghts era. That this somewhat dispirited recording was cut in 1970 is telling, but forced, idiosyncratic lyrics such as "falls down time and again/gets hung up and never wins/that's his history, my friend" will lead you to believe that this whole misconceived junket was not his idea.

The "hip" production style, which fuses Armstrong's growl with cheerful and frothy big-band backing, ultimately exposes how flat and ill sounding Armstrong's voice was at the time of this session, and further verification that Pops was obviously out for the pay comes to light when considering his background. Who knew that Armstrong, a poor black man born in total impoverishment in the New Orleans of 1901, even cared or knew this much about politics and race relations anyway?

Reviewer: Marcus Singletary

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