Monday, November 14, 2011

New Orleans Social Club Sings Its Way Home

In April 2006 I wrote reviews on several post-Katrina benefit albums. This is the third and last review of those I am posting. Here is the first which originally appeared in the April 2006 (issue 281) of Jazz & Blues Report as well as the April 2006 DC Blues Calendar, then the DC Blues Society’s newsletter. I likely received a review copy, not sure if from the record company, a publicist or Jazz & Blues Report. There is also a live recording of them from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that is available from Sadly some acts including Willie Tee have passed on.

The New Orleans Social Club’s Sing Me Back Home (Burgundy Records) is a collection of performances Cut last October in Austin. Dr. John and Irma Thomas (here with Marcia Ball) are the only performers on the Nonesuch disc, Our New Orleans, that are here.

Cyril Neville opens with the Impressions’ protest ballad, This is My Country, followed by Ivan Neville (Aaron’s son) funk reworking of Fortunate Son, with the lyrics about the “millionaire’s son” and “I ain’t no fortunate one,” reverberating with a once again timely message. Somewhere from “West Side Story,” takes a new meaning in light of Katrina as Henry Butler sings “There’s a place for us.” Irma Thomas & Marcia Ball sing about keeping a smile and a sense of things being better on Look Up, while Dr. John, with band, revisits Bobby Charles’ Walking to New Orleans (originally Fats Domino’s hit), although this time with a funk groove and not as gloomy as the take he did that closed one of the televised Katrina benefits.

Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews, a threat on both trumpet and trombone, gets the spotlight on Hey Troy' Your Mama's Callin' You, a lively Caribbean-flavored instrumental. The Mighty Clouds of Joy contribute a gospel number while the Subdudes take on Earl King’s Make a Better World. New Orleans legend, Willie Tee contributes First Taste of Hurt, while the Sixth Ward All-Star Brass Band Revue featuring Charles Neville do Where Y’at, a medley of songs associated with Brass bands including Jesus is on the Mainline, I’m Walkin’, and (When) The Saints Go Marching In).

Big Chief Monk Boudreaux’s Chase is set to a reggae grove with its lyric questioning why one wants to send him away from home. Singer John Boutté closes with the moving ballad by Annie Lennox, Why, which is an amazing performance to close another album of terrific music.

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