Fish fries - open parties with lots of food, drink, music and revelry - were a New Orleans tradition in the black community. On Saturday nights, a red kerosene lamp would indicate which houses were hosting.
In this song, Louis Jordan sings about hitting up a particularly festive fish fry on Rampart Street, where everyone is dancing and having a good time to the sounds of a grand piano. But then the place gets busted; Jordan tries hiding under a bathtub but is discovered and goes to jail. It was a great time while it lasted, but he never wants to go through that again.
This song was written by Ellis "Slow" Walsh, who recorded it with his band Eddie Williams and His Brown Buddies. Jordan restructured the song in his jump blues style and released it as a single, with his name added to the writing credits along with Walsh. It's not clear if Walsh asked Jordan to record it, but as the co-writer, Walsh had a lot to gain because Jordan was a huge star and his group was rather obscure.
Jordan's version vaulted to #1 on the R&B chart October 8, 1949, where it stayed for 12 weeks. During this run, Jordan played a number of successful shows, including a stint at the Apollo Theater in New York with a young singer named Ruth Brown.
This was the follow-up to another food-themed single for Jordan: "Beans and Corn Bread." That one was also a #1 R&B hit.
Personnel on this track were:
Piano: Bill Doggett
Tenor sax: Josh Jackson
Alto sax: Jordan
Trumpets: Aaron Izenhall, Bob Mitchell, Hal Mitchell
Guitar: Ham Jackson
Bass: Billy Hadnott
Drums: Christopher Columbus
Singles were issued on 78 RPM records at the time, which didn't leave a lot of room. This song had to be split into two sides to fit, so the A-side of the single (running 3:12) held the first part of the song, with the remaining 2:48 on the B-side.
This isn't the first time Jordan sang about cops busting a party. In his 1945 song "They Raided The House," he escapes arrest because he's drunk on the corner when the cops raid the place.