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5.0 out of 5 stars Top sounds of New Orleans, 28 May 2006
By 
Mailian (Brussels, Belgium) - See all my reviews
288 minutes or almost 4 hours of digitally remastered New Orleans R & B masterpieces and more are presented here on 4 cds.

Covering the artists recording between 1949-65 for Imperial, Aladdin, Minit and Sue, all labels now owned by EMI, cd 1 is even more. As a sort of greatest hits it contains also the biggest hits outside the EMI stable by Professor Longhair, Lloyd Perice, Guitar Slim, Little Richard, Huey Piano Smith, Lee Dorsey, the Meters and Labelle. Cds 2 to 4 are chronologically sequenced from the boogie of the late 1940s to the proto soul of Irma Thomas in the early 1960s. It offers 11 Fats Domino, 9 Dave Bartholomew and 8 Smiley Lewis goodies (but not all). Minor league artists are featured with all their best i.e Jessie Hill, Earl King, Ernie K-Doe, Aaron Neville, Shirley & Lee, the Showmen, the Spiders and Irma Thomas. The big man behind the scenes is composer, arranger and producer Allen Toussaint, who is featured in 2 interesting duo recordings with Allen Orange. Pianists Archibald and Smilin' Joe and a host of lesser known but equally satisfying artists complete this fascinating overview.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Let the good times roll!, 2 Sept. 2011
By 
Dangerous Dave (Berkhamsted, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Over recent years we've seen several compilation sets released covering the late 40's and 50's music from New Orleans but this one may well have been the first sizable box set i.e. beyond single album length. Released back in 1996, it was constrained by copyright - the fact that all material from this period is now in the public domain gives a massive advantage of course, to today's compilers. The set comes from EMI who own the labels, Imperial and Minit in particular, (plus others) both of considerable significance for New Orleans music from this period. The two real biggies that EMI did not have access to were Specialty (for Little Richard, Lloyd Price etc.) and Ace (US), home of Huey "Mr Piano" Smith and many more.

What EMI have done is negotiated copyright on a small number of key tracks. This has enabled them to present CD 1 in this collection as a kind of Greatest Hits of the period. This works pretty well - see track listings below:

CD1

1. Prof Longhair - Mardi Gras in New Orleans
2. Fats Domino - The Fat Man
3. Roy Brown - Mighty Mighty Man
4. Lloyd Price - Lawdy Miss Clawdy
5. Guitar Slim - Things I used to do
6. The Spiders - I din't want to do it
7. Sugar Boy Crawford - Jock A Mo
8. Smiley Lewis - I hear you knocking
9. Little Richard - Tutti Frutti
10. Fats Domino - Ain't that a shame
11. Shirley & Lee - Let the good times roll
12. Clarence Frogman Henry - Ain't got no home
13. Roy Brown - Let the four winds blow
14. Dave Bartholomew - The Monkey
15. Huey "Mr Piano" Smith - Don't you just know it
16. Jessie Hill - Ooh poo pah do
17. Fats Domino - Walking to New Orleans
18. Ernie K Doe - Mother in law
19 Prince La La - She put the hurt on me
20. The Showmen - It will stand
21. Barbara George - I know
22. Irma Thomas - It's raining
23. Lee Dorsey - Working in a coalmine
24. Aaron Neville - Tell it like it is
25. The Meters - Cissy Strut
26. LaBelle - Lady Marmalade

CD2

1. Tommy Ridgley - Boogie Woogie Mama
2. Fats Domino - Detroit City Blues
3. Jewel King - 3 x 7
4. Dave Bartholomew - That's how you got killed before
5. Smiley Lewis - Tee-Nah Nah
6. Archibald - Stack-a-Lee
7. Dave Bartholomew - Poppa Stoppa Theme Song
8. Joe Turner - Jumping' Tonight aka Midnight
9. Dave Bartholomew - Ain't gonna do it
10. Fats Domino - Every Night about this time
11. Archibald - Shame Shame Baby
12. Dave Bartholomew - Good Jax Boogie
13. Shirley & Lee - I'm Gone
14. Tommy Ridgley - Looped
15. Smiley Lewis - The bells are ringing
16. Dave Bartholomew - Who drank my beer while I was in the rear
17. Fats Domino - Goin' Home
18. Smiley Lewis - Lillie Mae
19. Archibald - Great Big Eyes (those little reds)
20. Dave Bartholomew - Little girl sing Ding-a-Ling
21. Clarence Garlow - Bon Ton Roulet
22. Lowell Fulson - You've gotta Reap
23. Fats Domino - Goin' to the river
24. Bobby Mitchell & the Toppers - Baby's gone
25. Smiley Lewis - Blue Monday
26. The Spiders - You're the One
27. Jesse Allen - Sittin' and Wonderin'
28. Smilin' Joe - ABC's (Part 1)
29. Smilin' Joe - ABC's (Part 2)
30. The Bees - Toy Bell

CD3

1. The Spiders - I'm slippin' in
2. Billy Tate - Single Life
3. Pee Wee Crayton - Runnin' Wild
4. Dave Bartholomew - Four Winds
5. Shirley & Lee - Feel so Good
6. Wee Willie Wayne - Travellin' Mood
7. Dave Bartholomew - Would You
8. The Spiders - Witchcraft
9. Fats Domino - I'm in love again
10. Smiley Lewis - One Night
11. Bobby Mitchell - Try Rock'n'Roll
12. Shirley & Lee - I feel Good
13. Smiley Lewis - Someday
14. Lee Allen - Rockin' at Cosmos
15. Amos Milburn - Chicken Shack Boogie
16. Charles Brown - Please Believe Me
17. Smiley Lewis - Shame, Shame, Shame
18. Chris Kenner - Sick & Tired
19. Johnny Fuller - Sister Jenny
20. Ruth & Al - I'll be the Bee
21. Fats Domino - I'm Walkin'
22. Faye Adams - Keeper of my heart
23. Bobby Mitchell - I'm gonna be a wheel someday
24. Fats Domino - I want to walk you home
25. Jessie Hill - Ooh poo pah do (part 2)
26. Allen & Allen - Tiddle Winks
27. Aaron Neville - Over You
28. Jessie Hill - Whip it on me
29. Ernie K Doe - Hello my Lover
30. Bobby Charles - I just want you
31. Fats Domino - It keeps rainin'

CD4

1. Ernie K Doe - Tain't it the truth
2. Earl King - Come on (part 1)
3. Allen & Allen - Heavenly Baby
4. Allen Orange - True Love never dies
5. Blazer Boy -New Orleans Twist
6. Irma Thomas - Cry On
7. Lee Diamond - It won't be me
8. Aaron Neville - Let's live
9. The Del Royals - Grumblin' Fussin' Nag Nag
10. Ernie K Doe - I cried my last tear
11. The Showmen - Country Fool
12. Ernie K Doe - Te-Ta-Ta-Ta
13. Irma Thomas - I don got over it
14. Jessie Hill - Oogsey Moo
15. Ernie K Doe - A certain girl
16. The Showmen - Fate planned it this way
17. Tommy Taylor & the five Knights - I Want Somebody
18. The Senors - Searchin' for Olive Oil
19. Diamond Joe - Help Yourself
20. Al Robinson - The Blues
21. Earl King - Always a first time
22. Benny Spellman - Fortune Teller
23. Calvin Lee - Valley of Tears
24. Earl King - Trick Bag
25. Benny Spellman - Every Now and then
26. Eskew Reeder - Never Again
27. Benny Spellman - Lipstick Traces
28. Irma Thomas - Ruler of my heart
29. The Showmen - 39-21-40 Shape
30. Irma Thomas - Take a look

To pick up on the point about CD 1, there are a number of tracks here which almost deserve the label "iconic" (which label I normally feel is totally over- used). Certainly Guitar Slim's "The Things I used to do" which has been covered by every blues guitarist from East Texas and South Louisiana and plenty outside deserves this labelling. As also do Lloyd Price's "Lawdy Miss Clawdy", Smiley Lewis' "I hear you knocking", Shirley and Lee's "Let the Good Times Roll", Jesse Hill's "Ooh poo pah do", Fats Domino's "Aint that a shame", Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and probably a few more. There are also several slightly lesser known tracks here like Barbara George's "I know" and Roy Brown's "Let the Four Winds blow" which are also indelibly associated with New Orleans.

CD's 2 to 4 are then arranged in chronological sequence and one does become aware of a average quality level drop immediately (to the extent that the Fats Domino tracks in particular stand out because they're simply better or more memorable). When I say "drop" I should be careful. What I mean is that these's a lot of basic jump blues mainly from the Dave Bartholemew band plus piano led blues from the likes of Archibald etc. These are good but not really of great interest to mainstream CD buyers. This does make the last three CD's in the set more for died in the wool fans/collectors rather than novices in this field of music. Don't get me wrong. There are plenty of excellent tracks dotted about like Smiley Lewis' original of "One Night" and his original version of "Blue Monday" (largely copied by Domino), Clarence Garlow's "Bon Ton Roulet" (an absolute classic), several goodies from Ernie K Doe, also great ones from Irma Thomas, Benny Spellman's marvellous "Lipstick Traces", Aaron Neville's "Over You", an early Bobby Charles, and all those great numbers from Fats. There is even an argument that there could have been two sets - an even longer one for collectors and a two CD one picking up all the goodies for the mainstream.

However since we're now in PD land much of this is hypothetical. I'd love EMI to reissue this set so that we can get a more realistic price but suspect that if they did it would need re-compiling in order to be competitive in the light of PD.

I also forgot to say that the Notes are/were absolutely fantastic. I only say "were" because mine got separated from the set and then got stolen. Don't ask, it's a complicated story involving a laptop and that record shop in West Slough (I don't think it's still there) which specialised in rock'n'roll!
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