Various Artists - Our New Orleans 2005 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by John Sutton-Smith   
Tuesday, 06 December 2005

Various Artists

Our New Orleans 2005
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Nonesuch
release year: 2005
performance: 8
sound: 8
reviewed by: John Sutton-Smith

Of all the concerts and benefits put on by the music industry in aid of New Orleans in the wake of this year’s hurricanes, Our New Orleans has to be one of the most heartfelt and flat-out best collections of music from and about the Crescent City. It will not only benefit the city’s coffers (actually Habitat for Humanity, in their efforts to rebuild the city) but also serves to document the depth and profound musicality of the city, as well as serving as a calling card promoting the glories of New Orleans’ past to whole new generations of listeners.

Featuring artists from all across the New Orleans’ music community and rich pageant of styles, this album features newly recorded versions of Crescent City classics, many of them integral to native sons like Allen Toussaint (“Yes We Can Can,” “Tipitina and Me”), Dr. John (“World I Never Made”), Buckwheat Zydeco (“Cryin’ in the Streets”) and the Wild Magnolias (“Brother John is Gone”).

Add to the mix classic combos like Beausoleil (“The Hurricane”), Dirty Dozen Brass Band (“My Feet Can’t Fail Me Now”) and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (“Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans”), along with native chanteuse Irma Thomas (“Back Water Blues”) and Randy Newman’s rendition of his prescient classic (“Louisiana 1927”), backed by members of the Louisiana and New York Philharmonics, to close it all out, and you’ve got an historical document of major proportions in any musical language, with rhythms and soul that will last as long as the city, that will in fact be the abiding spirit that keeps the city alive.

With top name producers like Ry Cooder, Hal Willner and Joe Henry behind the boards, and the artists’ familiarity and fondness for the songs and the city, how could there be anything but a warm, rousing vibrant energy to these performances? Recorded swiftly over little more than a month’s time, in several one-day sessions across the country, Our New Orleans represents the wounded city proudly, poignantly and elegantly.

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