Alan Toussaint this year turned 75, and he's been a highly respected figure on the soul side of the rock, jazz, and blues house for many years, making his way not only into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but also the Louisiana version. His work's been covered by everyone under the sun—the Who, Ringo Starr, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, the Rolling Stones, the O'Jays, Jerry Garcia, Devo, Bo Diddley, the Pointer Sisters, and so many others that I'd be here half the night naming them all—and you, dear reader are quite familiar with more than a few of his many hits: Working in the Coalmine, Fortune Teller, Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues), Get Out of My Life, Woman, What Do You Want the Girl to Do?…again, so many that my poor typoholic fingers would bleed to name them all. High time, then, that he was tributized in the manner the big band Swingadelic is pursuing.
Most of the oeuvre here is vocal—just four out of fifteen cuts are instrumentals: Java, Get Out My Life, Woman, Everything I Do Gonna be Funky, and Yes We Can Can (which the Pointer Sisters sang like nobody's business in the outrageously righteous but almost unknown Live in Africa VHS release, and DON'T get the DVD!, muddy sound, get the VHS IF you can)—with John Bauers taking the helm in a breezy cool-cat fashion, the boys in the band fashioning a funky, brassy, too-hip environment all around him. Boo Reiners executes an out-RAY-jussssss guitar solo in On Your Way Down, one that'll have Jeff Beck lying awake nights, wondering why the hell he didn't come up with it first, and the cavorting horn section in the just-mentioned Java and elsewhere will be tickling your jazz funny bone from fingertips to shoulder, set off by a Spike Jonesy unnamed someone on banjo (my guess? it's Boo again).
This smooth as silk outing's on the Zoho label, and if you were as stunned as I was by the recent Leo Brouwer (here) and Botti/Ziegler (here) releases, Toussaintville is just what ya need to come down from those stratospherically sophisticated CDs, landing your feet back on the sun-warmed concrete and tarmac of New Orleans, grabbing a Long Island Iced Tea while jangling a jungle of gaudy plastic necklaces around your neck, a very loud tropical shirt, and a pair of swamp-treader cut-offs. The tropical sway and midnight strut factors alone are the height of neon hipstering, Mr. Bauers emceeing every twist and turn, so don't feel like it would be inappropriate to act up 'n git down. That's why the whole thing was put together.
And, oh, to the side of all that, all those songs over the years credited to a "Naomi Neville", two of which appear here? That's Allen too. He was getting out from under some legal nonsense or other. The guy knew how to sidle past the front office idiots better than most and came to take over a hell of a lot of production duties that, had one of those brick-brained accountant nephews of the swindlers and cut-purses in the penthouse suites tackled, would've turned to the sort of merde (pardonnez-moi mon francais) we see far too much of already in the charts Toussaint strove to class up. We still need more of that. A lot more.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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