on 26 November 2012
Allen Toussaint has undoubtedly been THE seminal figure of New Orleans music since the early '60's and has justifiably achieved legendary status. This 24-track CD goes some way to explaining why with a fair sampling of artists performing Toussaint's songwriting efforts with performances from 1961 to 1992 and there is even one track from the great man himself ('Soul Sister') and its a good'un.
It is possible to nitpick endlessly with the track selection for a CD like this, especially since Mr. Toussaint has penned enough classic tunes to fill several CDs but overall Ace do a good job with some excellent surprising choices like Bill Medley's version of "Freedom For The Stallion" and more amazingly The Judds version of Lee Dorsey's "Working In A Coalmine" which is almost funky (!) despite their country credentials and it emanating from the mid-80's when being 'funky' wasn't on top of anyone's agenda! Most of the tracks are from the '69 to '79 time period and mesh pretty well together which makes the few early to mid-'60's tracks sound a little out of place fine songs though they are (eg. Lee Dorsey's "Holy Cow"; Aaron Neville's "Let's Live"). It'd probably been a better move to stick to the '69-'79 decade especially since this time period is relatively unanthologised in regard to the Toussaint canon as opposed to the '60s where there are numerous Toussaint compilations, both multi- and single-artist.
That said there are numerous top-notch performances from admitted Toussaint admirers like Boz Scaggs, Bonnie Raitt, Lowell George (pretty much the cream of the 70's SoCal singers and players....) and even our own Robert Palmer, with help from Little Feat, and Frankie Miller (who even hired Toussaint to produce his excellent "High Life" album). It's good to see also that Glen Campbell makes it onto the list with his superb massive hit version of "Southern Nights" and the ultra-funky single edit of "Yes We Can Can" by The Pointer Sisters. There is much more besides; the only three duds are the 'New Wave' version of "A Certain Girl" by the overrated Warren Zevon which is about as unfunky as you can get, the now over-familiar "Here Comes The Girls" by Ernie K-Doe (a different track from his 1970 Janus LP from which "....Girls" was taken would've been a better idea) and the 1992 version of "Sweet Touch Of Love" by Irma Thomas, which sounds tired compared to the many great Toussaint tracks she laid down in the 1960's any number of which would've been more appropriate.
Overall though this compilation performs an invaluable service, especially to those unfamiliar with Mr. Toussaint's work and even with three "relative" duds that means 21 gems remain.