New Year, Old Year
Happy New Year, y'all. I’m working up a few new posts this week and getting used to a new job. So, there may be a slow-down in posting for a while; or not. We’ll see. I’ve got plans for this month to feature a bunch of various artists doing Toussaint tunes – I’ve been finding more of those lately. And I have part two of my Teddy Royal feature in the works. And, as many of you know, Carnival season cranks up soon. So, things ought to be active around here to kick off 2007.
I want to thank everyone who contributed to the bandwidth kitty over the past month or two. Friends and total strangers! You know who you are. You’ve helped me keep the music coming well on into the new year. As promised, since I am now employed again. . .finally, I’ve taken down the donation button.
Lastly, I just wanted to mention a few re-issue compilations and new releases that I found enjoyable and valuable in 2006. This list is in random order and not all-inclusive by any means! I reviewed a couple of these and ran across the others either online or at what is still the record store of my dreams, the Louisiana Music Factory in New Orleans.
SOUTHERN FRIED FUNK – 22 Funky Soul Grooves From New Orleans And The Deep South, Grapevine 3031, 2006. For New Orleans music collectors, this CD has some hard (or impossible) to find obscurities by Warren Lee, Eldridge Holmes, David Batiste and the Gladiators (the great and un-issued “Funky Hips”), and Diamond Joe, plus several Eddie Bo projects, and a funky Wardell Quezergue production on Jewell Bass. There were several things I did not have on this one. The notes are limited, but helpful. The label scans are too small to be much more than decoration.
The Instant & Minit Story – The Definitive 3 CD History of Joe Banashak’s Group Of Labels From the Gold Age Of New Orleans R&B. . ., Charly SNAJ 731, 2006. The Charly re-issue imprint is back with a re-vamped sampling of sides from these labels, which is an expanded version of their earlier 2 CD set. The notes too have been expanded, but can still be unrevealing at times. While calling it definitive is a stretch – you’d need much more than 3 CDs to really cover this subject thoroughly – this is a great collection. There were a handful of tunes I had never heard before. Glad to have it, even though I still have the earlier set, too.
What It Is! 1966 – 1977 Funky Soul And Rare Grooves From the Vaults Of Atlantic, ATCO, and Warner Bros., Rhino Entertainment R2 77635, 2006. I reviewed a single CD sampler from this 4 CD box set in November; and there is a still hot streaming audio link to about an hour’s worth of music on that post. Very nicely packaged, this set could have been even better if the compilers had gone deeper into the vaults and better researched some of the artists for the notes – but, still, this is an impressive re-issue project that I hope will have further volumes. By the way, the introductory essay for the set is by esteemed music blogger Oliver Wang of Soul Sides.
What It Is! The Singles Collection, Rhino Entertainment, 2006. In conjunction with the CD box set, Rhino has issued a limited edition set of 25 exact reproduction 45s of selected featured songs that appear on the CDs, plus their B-sides, of course, which aren’t on the CDs. Also very nicely packaged in a cardboard 45 box repro, this set costs over one and a half times as much as the CD collection; but that's just a bit less than $5.00 per mint record. To date, Rhino still has no information on it at their website! Jon at Nevilletracks alerted us to its existence in the comments to my What It Is! post. Dusty Groove still seems to have some in stock. I’ll be posting on some of these babies later.
Sing Me Back Home, The New Orleans Social Club, Burgundy Records/Sony/BMG, 2006. I’ve got to say I think this is the best post-Katrina effort by various individual New Orleans musicians to make healing music. It just kicks serious butt. A number of the city’s finest come together here with an incredible core band: Henry Butler and Ivan Neville, keyboards; Leo Nocentelli, guitar; George Porter, Jr., bass; and Raymond Weber, drums. My first impression about it was reinforced when I saw most of the participants on Austin City Limits doing this material. Highly recommended viewing and listening. Cyril Neville is incendiary on the Curtis Mayfield composition, “This Is My Country”, simply one of the best things he’s ever done – I don’t care where he chooses to live anymore. Ivan’s funky re-working of John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son” is also outstanding. I also heard him do that live in Lafayette with Dumpstaphunk this fall. All the performances on this one are first rate.
from the Big Apple to the Big Easy: the concert for New Orleans, Rhino Entertainment, 2006. DVD. See my review.
what’s going on, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Shout Factory, 2006. I stand by my review of this CD. The best post-Katrina album by a group. And we still need to be asking that question, people.
Two CDs of Irma Thomas material, old and new, are certainly worthy of mention in closing.
Irma Thomas A Woman's Viewpoint, Kent Soul, 2005. I didn't find this until 2006. It features remastered recordings from the 1970s, mainly things she did with producer Jerry Williams, the Swamp Dogg, that were released on Fungus, Roker, and Canyon, including her Fungus LP, In Between Tears. There's also an unissued cut, plus several single sides from RCS, produced by John Fred in the late 1970s (some of which were also on an RCS LP).
After The Rain, Rounder, 2006. Simply the best Irma album in years. She is backed by some of New Orleans' and Louisiana's finest musicians on these recordings done right down the road from me at Dockside Studio, in Maurice, Louisiana. First class stuff that further proves New Orleans music lives.