Thursday, July 23, 2015

Allen Toussaint – The Real Thing 1970 to 1975, features a trio of albums

A trio of albums from this legendary New Orleans soul singer – all of them great! First up is Toussaint – a seminal album from Allen Toussaint – his first big move as a solo act, and the start of some great fame that would blossom even more strongly in the 70s! This indie effort has a rougher edge than Allen's later albums at Warner Brothers – a sly, wicked slow funk approach that's a real transformation of the older New Orleans groove for a hipper, more contemporary 70s audience. The instrumentation is relatively lean – with lots of nice organ and piano lines alongside slow-stepping and vamping rhythms – and the set was actually recorded in LA, but still has very strong roots in New Orleans! Titles include the classic "From A Whisper To A Scream", plus "Working In A Coal Mine", "Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky", "What Is Success", "Either", "Louie", and "Number Nine" – a few of which are hip piano instrumentals! 

Life, Love, & Faith is a set that may well be his funkiest album ever! The set features 12 tracks from the early 70s – a time when Toussaint was mixing a bit of funk into the heavy soul mix that he'd had from his early days in the Crescent City scene – coming up with a blend that's even darker, and more powerful than all his famous production and projects of the 60s! And while some of Allen's later work tended towards cliche, this record captures him right at that perfect point when all of this was totally fresh – delivered with a razor-sharp edge, and with great instrumental help from New Orleans legends like Leo Nocentelli, Zig Modeliste, and George Porter Jr – all of whom make the album groove harder than most of the other soul albums on Warner at the time. Titles include "Soul Sister", "Victims Of The Darkness", "Am I Expecting Too Much", "Out Of The City", "Goin Down", "Electricity", "Fingers & Toes", and "On Your Way Down".

Southern Nights is damn great work from Allen Toussaint – a record that was cut at a time when he'd really made his way into the mainstream of American music, yet could still come across with a hard New Orleans groove! The title cut, "Southern Nights", is a perfect illustration of this fact – as it was written by Toussaint, but became a big hit for Glen Campbell, who recorded a very soppy version of the number. Yet here, Allen turns it into a weird trippy tune – produced with great Sansu production, and backing by New Orleans legends like Leo Nocentelli, George Porter, and Art Neville – all of whom help the tune bristle with new energy, and a really sinister groove. The rest of the record continues in a similar vein – with a spacey LA mellow sound that actually works great for Toussaint's vocals, and gives them a wild flanged-out sound that's pretty amazing – and downright spooky at points! Titles include "Southern Nights", "Basic Lady", "Last Train", "Worldwide", "You Will Not Lose", "When The Party's Over", and "What Do You Want The Girl To Do". CD also features 2 bonus tracks – "Number Nine" and "Poor Folks".  ~ Dusty Groove


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