The excellent long dormant series of New Orleans R&B compilations from Soul Jazz Records has been resuscitated here. The track listing is a rather skimpy 18-tracks totally 56 minutes whereas earlier compilations in this series came to a more generous 24-tracks, not sure why this would be (licensing costs?).
There is some primo rare stuff here including two ace Betty Harris tracks probably backed by The Meters (despite not having their own track here The Meters are all over this CD). The two Lee Dorsey tracks whilst not particularly rare are superior Meter's backed items with Lee's inimitable relaxed, laidback vocals - the ultimate sound of 60's New Orleans. The Dixie Cups versions of "Two-Way-Poc-A-Way" is slightly out of place here coming from the mid-60's and being more girl-group than funk (the only hint of this is the syncopated drum-beat since it is otherwise acapella) but is nevertheless a good track to own. Eldridge Holmes version of Tim Hardin's "If I Was A Carpenter" shouldn't work but somehow he just about pulls it off despite the original being just about as unfunky a song as could be imagined (Hardin's is a stone classic though). Chuck Garbo's "Take Care Of Your Homework" has a smoking funky backing track but the vocals don't quite gell with it though sounding like they belong to a deep soul track - still very enjoyable. The best rare track is Tony Owens "Got A Get My Baby Back Home" which is quite simply a storming funk monster: great backing, great vocal - a gem.
However the side is slightly let down with some lazy track selections. These include Prof. Longhair's "Big Chief, Part 2" which is simply unnecessary since Part 1 was on Volume One of this compilation series and this sequel doesn't really add much. The Willie West and Toussaint tracks whilst excellent aren't particularly rare and the sort of person who'll pick this set up will likely already have these. Finally The Dirty Dozen Brass Band's version of The Blackbyrds "Do It Fluid" was recorded over 10-years after the latest of the remaining tracks (being recorded in 1984) and so just doesn't 'feel' right either musically or production wise (despite being OK-ish).
In conclusion a very good set that could've been really excellent if a few more songs had been tacked on to match the length of the earlier compilations in this series and the 4-or-so lazy uninspired selections had been exchanged for more potent tracks (of which there are many from New Orleans!).
Lots of great tracks here, some I knew, lots I didn't. Since Volume 1 of this series there's been loads of copycat New Orleans Funk compilations but this is the real deal and as you'd expect from a Soul Jazz compilation the attention to detail sets it apart from the rest.
If you're already a fan of New Orleans funk and soul music I'm sure you'll enjoy this album, and if you don't know much about it then this is a good place to start.