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What Is Success: the Scepter and Bell Recordings

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Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Everything I Do Gonh Be Funky (From Now On)
  2. Get Out of My Life, Woman
  3. Sweet Touch of Love
  4. From a Whisper to a Scream
  5. Pickles
  6. Gotta Travel On
  7. The Chokin' Kind
  8. Cast Your Fate to the Wind
  9. We the People
  10. Either
  11. Number Nine
  12. What Is Success
  13. Louie
  14. Working in the Coalmine
  15. I've Got That Feelin' Now
  16. Tequila
  17. Hands Christianderson

Product Description

Product Description

* This CD restores to catalogue Toussaint's second album - the first that he released under his own name - titled originally "Toussaint", then renamed "From A Whisper To A Scream" - augmented with the A- and B-sides of three Bell 45s from 1968 and 1969. Five of these have never been reissued in 35+ years.

* Originally released on vinyl on Scepter Records in 1970, New Orleans' eminent musical genius's solo LP was largely overlooked at the time but is nowadays considered to be a real masterpiece of Crescent City Soul. This CD replaces
CD KENM 036, which is now deleted.

* A showcase for both Toussaint's widely admired piano playing and his unique bluesy voice, the contains the original versions of several of his best known songs, for himself and for other notables such as Lee Dorsey, Bonnie Raitt, Robert Palmer and Esther Phillips. Good though these are, Toussaint's recordings are the definitive versions.

* Allen Toussaint's profile is extremely high at the moment , regrettably in part as a result of the devastating Hurricane Katrina, but largely because he's been working on some of his best recording sessions in years.

* If you've heard others sing Toussaint, but never heard Allen Toussaint sing (and play) Toussaint, there are few better introductions to the man's sublime craft than this one still is...

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Toussaint 22 Nov. 2007
By Soulboogiealex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
I wish I could say Allen Toussaint doesn't need any introduction. But for some reason he still does. Despite his '98, long overdue, induction into the R&R Hall of Fame, most people were very much in the dark on who Allen was when Elvis Costello decided to record with him last year for "The River In Reverse". Allen Toussaint doesn't need any introduction amongst Soul fans, not even amongst the more casual admirer of the genre. But beyond that people hardly have a clue of who he is, hardly have a notion of the vastness of his legacy. With "The River in Reverse" a critical success, commercially even being relatively successful, there has been some new attention to the man. His albums have finally all been re released hopefully leading to more of a notion again of Allen Toussaint's influence on the development of popular music. On top of that, Costello's and Toussaint's successful tour has been released on DVD. Allowing people to see the man live in action. A rarity since Allen has always been an artist that preferred to be in the shadows of R&B's greatest.

Toussaint, at first glance, is a perfect example of how the influence of Black artists on R&R generally seem to be forgotten. The sense of importance fading over time. Allen Toussaint was essential in developing the sound of New Orleans. A sound that eventually spread out through artists like Dr. John, the Band and the Rolling Stones to a world wide audience. The brilliance of those acts is heralded, the origin of their brilliance a fading memory. In the case of Allen Toussaint this might not be so surprising. He mostly created behind the scenes. Allen wrote, produced, arranged and played for the greats of Soul music. At the age of 18 Allen was already a very accomplished piano player, mimicking the style of the great Professor Longhair. Soon Toussaint found himself filling in for no other than Fats Domino in the studio. Fats being mostly on the road, where the real money was, hardly had the time to record. Toussaint would play the piano on the studio track laid down in New Orleans for Fats, the instrumental would then be sent to a studio in the neighborhood of where Fats was on tour at that moment, and Domino would simply do the vocal. To this day it's uncertain on which tracks Fats played himself and what tracks Toussaint delivered for him . His studio work would eventually lead to an album of instrumentals under the name of Tousan for the RCA label. Although the album failed to chart and Toussaint was dropped from the label, it gave him enough clout to become a producer.

Toussaint's work at Minit records in the early sixties is an essential part of R&B history. Toussaint wrote numerous hits for the likes of Lee Dorsey ("Ya Ya"), Irma Thomas ("Ruler Of My Heart"), Chris Kenner ("Land Of A 1000 Dances"), Benny Spellman ("Lipstick Traces") or Aaron Neville ("Over You"). Meanwhile "Fortune Teller"recorded by Jessie Hill would become a staple for a great variety of British Invasion acts, such as The Who and the Rolling Stones. Minit and Toussaint defined the sound of New Orleans as much Stax did for Memphis or Motown for Detroit. Toussaint did as much to create what we now call Soul as those two labels did. It is therefore highly ironic that his biggest commercial success came when he let bubble gum cocktail Pop artist use his "Whipped Cream" on what would become one of the most successful albums of the sixties. Believe it or not, but at the time Herb Alpert and his Tijuana Brass Band outsold even the Beatles. The instrumental would go on to be used as the trailer for the immensely popular TV show "The Dating Game". The royalty checks of that one song must have softened the lack of commercial recognition for his own records later on down the road a bit.

After his service in the army Toussaint went on to produce a second string of impressive hits with his own production company Sansu, formed with partner Marshall Sehorn in the early sixties. At Sansu his sound would become decidedly funkier. Classics 45s like Lee Dorsey's "Ride Your Pony" or "Working In The Coal Mine" are floor fillers even today. On Sansu Allen also started his collaboration with the Meters, a funk band whose influence on the genre is trumped by James Brown only. Even though it is very possible that Toussaint's work with Dorsey and the Meters is where Brown found the raw material for his polyrhythmic revolution. Brown may claim otherwise, but nothing is born in a vacuum. Brown ants came crawling in his pants all the way down from New Orleans to Augusta Georgia. In turn the sound of the Meters was highly indebted to the earlier mentioned Professor Longhair, who created that mix of R&B and Rumba that became so typical for the New Orleans sound. The history of Funk originates in New Orleans and beyond. It was born out of a sweaty fusion of styles and Toussaint was one of its main ingredients.

Finally in 1968, after recording so many brilliant sides for others, Toussaint started to explore his own voice at Bell records with a string of three singles, amongst which the upbeat civil rights anthem "We The People" and his own version of the Lee Dorsey hit "Get Out My Life, Woman". Together with the album that followed those 45s, "Toussaint", these singles our now re-released on yet another great Kent records compilation, "What Is Success: The Scepter & Bell Recordings" . "Toussaint" was somewhat of a mixed affair. It became a showcase of his talents. Mixing instrumentals with new materials and re-recordings of a few songs he had earlier produced for Lee Dorsey. Especially when you hear the latter you can't help but wonder why he didn't record for himself sooner than he did. Maybe it has something to do with his demeanor. Toussaint has always been a quiet force, lacking the gusto and bravura that is so common in the world of Soul. Allen is a man of a gentle smile sooner than a roaring laugh, more at ease in the back ground it seems. But as "Toussaint" demonstrates he has a voice to be reckoned with. Allen's delivery is gentle yet commanding, somewhat distant but simmering with contained emotion through out. Toussaint continuously sounds warm and gentle, even on his more confrontational songs.

"Toussaint" is filed with gems. There's the painful "From a Whisper To A Scream", after which the album would later be named when released in the UK. "From a Whisper" has emotions simmering to a boil. The song finds us looking into a relationship falling apart because of blindness. Subtle guitar work underscores the desperation of one of the partners as he franticly tries to make amends, yet we feel it all falling apart. "Whisper" would later be brilliantly covered by Esther Phillips. The instrument "Pickles" lightens things up a bit after that, smooth, seductive and sexy. But also a demonstration of Toussaint's forte as a pianist. Allen was never the musician to let it all hang out, always subtly supporting the songs he recorded for others, always in the service of. On "Pickles" we finally hear how great a pianist he really is. The re-cut of Dorsey's "Everything I Do Is Gonh Be Funky" is every bit as catchy as Lee's version. The album's center piece "What is Success" ask some very confrontational questions. It might be Toussaint's most personal song on the album. But it doesn't stay that way. "What is Success" is one of those songs that forces you to reevaluate your own life. The song is a mirror to your own Soul, questioning you on your own personal happiness. It is one of those songs that, to a willing ear, can kick start change in one's life.

For some reason Kent chose to mix up the playing order of the original album. Mixing the Bell singles with the album. This does take away some of the power the original album held. When "Toussaint" was originally released on Tiffany, "From a Whisper to a Scream" for example was followed by "Chocking Kind", adding to the claustrophobic feel relations can sometimes have. I'd like to advise using the program function on your CD player to restore the album to its original glory. Even though "Toussaint" failed to make a dent on the charts, it did take Allen's career to the next level. Bonnie Rait soon covered "What is Success" on her classic "Streetlights" album. Allen went on to produce for and with the Band, Doctor John, Paul Simon, Elvis Costello and Paul McCartney. Toussaint gained the recognition he deserved amongst his peers at least. "Toussaint" led to him being signed at the Warner subsidiary Reprise, where he recorded two of Soul's finest albums, "Life, Love and Faith" and "Southern Nights". Both albums were re-issued last year as well.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb Early Toussaint 22 Jun. 2010
By Todd Ellenberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
You can't go wrong with this disc: Allen Toussaint's early '70s self-titled LP, with some singles thrown in for good measure. Wonderful NOLA R&B. I extracted and reburned the CD so the tracks are in the order of the original LP release.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Recordings 16 Jun. 2012
By Donald E. Gilliland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The folks at Kent have done it again with another excellent reissue, this time packagaging one of Allen Toussaint's early albums with some extra cuts that he recorded for the Scepter and Bell labels. In a word: brilliant. These are superbly performed versions of superbly written compositions. As another reviewer noted, it's a shame --- no, it's a travesty --- that one has to talk up the talents of Toussaint and his relative lack of fame. This man is a musical genius, whether you are talking songwriter or performer. As most listeners are aware, he's an accomplished piano player, and his instrumentals are some of this album's highlights. But he's also a very engaging vocalist, his soulful/bluesy vocals adding just the right touch of tasty icing on a sweet musical cake. So many of these songs were later covered by other artists, another sure sign of the high quality of this music. If you enjoy 60s and 70s R&B or soul, or even soul-jazz from that period, treat yourself to this excellent collection.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 18 Mar. 2016
By R. Blesgraaf - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
0 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings 7 Oct. 2013
By Idle Vinyl - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Maybe this jusn't to my tastes, or not what I was expecting. I was hoping for something gritty, but got someting that had a pretty tame and 60s style showing its age
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