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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Swingin'!, 6 Nov 2003
This review is from: The Sound of the City: New Orleans (Audio CD)
On his Sound Of The City series of compilation CDs, esteemed writer and broadcaster Charlie Gillett draws together the diverse music of the cities that shaped the course of American music. It's such a simple idea (all the best ones are) and he has executed it brilliantly.
Sound Of The City: New Orleans is a 2CD riot of music from start to finish. To listen to these joyous, jumpin' recordings in this era of branded and airbrushed pop pap feels so great, like a musical restorative. Feeling jaded by the soporific, lumpen grumblings of the likes of Limp Bizkit, Staind and the rest of the therapy rock generation? Then put on.. let's see.. Ronnie And The Delinquents' Bad Neighbourhood. Two minutes of pop perfection that says more about being young and wild than Fred Durst will in his whole career. Co-written by Mac (Dr John) Rebennack, it's a tale of juvenile dropouts playing pool, firing slingshots through church windows and generally raising hell. It is at once supremely silly, rhythmically addictive and very, very cleverly put together. Recorded in 1960, it features sound effects of pool balls being potted and police sirens and an echo-laden trumpet solo that could have graced The Specials' Ghost Town. It's the appeal of New Orleans music in microcosm.
What strikes me more than anything about this music is the sound itself. It rips out of the speakers, and is just so physical. The limitations of the studio technology available at the time the majority of these recordings were made was, in retrospect, a positive advantage. There is a terrific live feel to the music, with plenty of room for the instruments to breathe. This is stripped-down, funky stuff - intelligent, fun and great for dancing to.
Gillett sensibly mixes up the familiar (House Of The Rising Sun, Let The Good Times Roll, Lady Marmalade) with more obscure tunes. Particular favourites of mine that were new to me are Snooks Eaglin's Country Boy (what a groove, what a voice!) and Willie Tee's Thank You John, which just swings.
The CDs are beautifully packaged, with great illustrations and an informative essay. My only gripe is that despite the reasonable price, this is costing me wallet-worrying amounts of money. Now that I've been exposed to so much great new (old) music, I have spent a fortune on CDs by the artists in question. Oh well, never mind!
Mr Gillett deserves a medal for services to my ears, and I cannot recommend this compilation highly enough. As he says in his liner notes, New Orleans is a city whose name sets the imagination running wild. Amen to that.
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The Sound of the City: New Orleans
The Sound of the City: New Orleans by Various Artists (Audio CD - 2002)
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