The New Orleans Social Club

Record review

Texas Platters

The New Orleans Social Club

Sing Me Back Home (Burgundy/Sony BMG)

Six weeks removed from the wrath of Katrina, a gathering of Crescent City natives assembled at South Austin's Wire Recording studio to put their damaged feelings to analog tape. Built on the nucleus of Meters' guitarist Leo Nocentelli and George Porter Jr. on bass, then buttressed by drummer Raymond Weber, Hammond organist Ivan Neville, and Henry Butler on piano, the New Orleans Social Club whips up an emotional whirlwind every bit as powerful as any blasted hurricane. When Willie Tee laments, "You can't know how it feels until you've walked in my shoes" on "First Taste of Hurt," it's more than the ghosts of an old Gaturs tune being dredged up. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux of the Wild Magnolias draws from Caribbean sources while laying claim to his city for those born and raised in its cultural bouillabaisse. "This is my hometown where my father before me hit the nail on the head, he helped to build this town." The house band reinforces Irma Thomas and Dr. John with so much funky elbow grease that their remakes of "Look Up (A.K.A. Whenever)" and "Walking to New Orleans" respectively brim with reconstructive optimism. Brilliant covers of the Meters' "Loving You Is on My Mind" and Jimmy Castor's "Hey Leroy, Your Mama's Callin' You" radiate the promise of a positive catharsis. Pile on the Subdudes swamp-romping through Earl King's "Make a Better World" and next thing you know Ivan Neville is ripping CCR's "Fortunate Son" a new one. Sing Me Back Home runs the gamut of New Orleans sounds, including the gospel appeal of the Mighty Chariots of Fire and the brass band repertoire of the 6th Ward All-Stars. Uplifting is hardly the word.

****

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