Elvis Costello's (Latest) New Orleans Album
On the way back from duck hunting with the boys in Houston, we listened to a selection of desert island discs notably Bobby Zimmerman's 1989 record Oh Mercy - his hypnotically, haunting atmospheric Lanois-produced tome recorded in the Lower Garden District. Probably the best New Orleans record as recorded by a non-Yat at that. I nearly drove off the road when Davey reminded me that EC's new album with Allen Toussaint was coming out on 6/6/06.
You can follow the tracks that place EC (a good, fish eating Catholic) in New Orleans with Allen: Macca recorded "Listen To What The Man Said" at Sea Saint in the early-70s; Macca meets EC over pinball during the Tug of War/Imperial Bedroom sessions; EC records Yoko's "Walking on Thin Ice" with Allen producing in 1983; Allen playing piano on EC's "Deep Dark Truthful Mirror" on 1989's Spike - also recorded at Sea Saint; EC joining the Dirty Dozen Brass Band even on 1990's version of Batholomew's "That's How You Got Killed Before". Et cetera. Elvis Costello loves New Orleans.
So it was really no surprise that when KTMB put EC and Allen together at a slew of benefit concerts in NYC that Declan would not only perform that incredibly memorable rendition of Toussaint's "Freedom For The Stallion" - but that something else would come of it. When I saw Lee Harvey on Camp Street six weeks after - he let me in on a little info: EC and Allen were participating in the first recording sessions in NOLA since KTMB. The result is The River In Reverse - part duet, part Toussaint songbook, part new stuff. The title track was famously penned by EC late one night during those benefit concerts and has been performed in several recent concerts - including their stint at JazzFest with the Boss.
Now, Guy will tell you about what kind of EC fan I am - I am not partial and make no secrets about my love for the man. He can go from rock to punk to country to pop to soul to classical and back to rock seemingly effortlessly - as evidenced by his incredibly prolific output of the last 30 years. His music is smart, tight, and rewarding. EC even got his feet wet in 2004 with his delta blues record The Delivery Man.
So now the Man has jumped right in and done an official New Orleans album. Allen produces and sings on at least one track. And while it sounds vintage and it sounds like Toussaint, it also sounds like Costello. "Tears, Tears, and More Tears" would not be out of place on Punch The Clock; "Ascension Day" is a slowed down Professor Longhair; "Six-Fingered Man" sounds like an outtake from Brutal Youth; plus a great version of "Freedom For The Stallion". A beautiful party record and a great testament to the influence of our city's musical heritage. Buy it. Show your love.
And I'd like to wish you and yours a wonderful Easter Sunday.
TAGS: Katrina, New Orleans, NOLA, Elvis Costello, Allen Toussaint, Music