After reaching meteoric fame with his 1960 hit “The Twist,” which pretty much everybody knows, Ernest Evans, AKA Chubby Checker, spent the rest of the decade trying to reproduce his success.
He released a folk album in 1964 which was little more than a mediocre collection of banjo-infused Americana standards. A few years later, he gifted the world with “Karate Monkey,” which was meant to be a new dance craze. Alas, it never took off.
Then, in 1971, with the kids heavy into psychedelic rock, Chubby tried to regain his lost relevance with “Chequered!”, a rambling nonsensical album whose cover art featured a slimmed-down Checker, not quite so chubby, squinting away from the camera as if mimicking the face of everyone who ever listened to the damned thing (above).
For whatever reason, the album was re-released digitally in 2012 with an additional track, “Gypsy,” a B-side to the 1973 single “Reggae My Way” in which Chubby butchered yet another musical art form.
But this track…
I’m not saying it’s a classic. It’s not. But it really ain’t bad. Unlike almost anything else from Chubby Checker’s post-Twist career, there’s something raw here. You can feel the man’s frustration from the start as he intones guttural sounds into the mic.
He goes on to sing about wandering from town to town, not having a home, trying to find himself — making this arguably the most honest song he ever recorded.