Toussaint's Shoorah (revised 2/25/2008)
"Shoorah Shoorah" (A. Toussaint)
Allen Toussiant (live in Philadelphia) , 1975
For years I was under the impression that Toussaint's live version of "Shoorah Shoorah" came from a 1976 concert that was part of that year's Jazzfest. You would think that, since it appeared on an LP (and later CD) entitled The New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival 1976, produced by Marshall Sehorn and Allen Toussaint, plus the fact that the notes state that the five Toussaint tracks on it were "recorded on the riverboat 'President', 4/9/76". But, I am always learning here at HOTG. An astute reader and listener, Jeff Mason, has pointed out to me that the live tracks on that album were actually recorded a year prior in Philadelphia. That entire earlier concert was released as part of the 2003 Rhino/Handmade two CD set, Allen Toussaint: The Complete Warner Recordings. A simple A/B comparison of the tracks set me straight and revealed that the producers deceived the public when they misrepresented the source of those live tracks on the earlier album.
Back on January 14, 2005, I posted another cut from this live date. For more information about the recording and Toussaint, please refer to my comments there and related memories of the era (posted January 15, 2005) by Dwight Richards, drummer for Chocolate Milk, who Toussaint produced and also used as a backing band in the studio and live during the later 1970s, though they did not appear with him in Philly.
Allen Toussaint puts his own creative spin on “Shoorah Shoorah” (shown as “Shoo-rah Shoo-rah” on the 1973 copyright filing); and we're lucky to have hs own take on it, since he never released a studio version of this tune, which was covered by the Righteous Brothers, Sam & Dave, Betty Wright, and Frankie Miller (produced by Toussaint) in the 1970’s, and later by British ska singer Patricia Black. Except for the double Shoorah in the chorus, these lyrics bear no resemblance to the earlier songs by Domino and Kenner, and certainly don’t make much straightforward sense either, seeming simultaneously playful and ominous. Shoorah or somebody is out to get the singer; and he doesn’t want to be caught. While that doesn’t help at all in the search for the meaning or identity of Shoo Rah, this is such a hot, energetic song that it doesn’t really matter. Toussaint’s deft arrangement and the band’s tight support make this live version definitive.
In the final Shoo-Rah installment, we'll hear a female vocalist who grew up in New Orleans do a rendition lyrically similar to the Domino/Kenner versions; but she strips the song down to its essentials to produce something that surely isn’t kid stuff. Stay tuned.