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The New Orleans Social Club: Sing Me Back Home

A bevy of key players with Crescent City connections band together here as the New Orleans Social Club in supporting a string of special guests on this celebratory CD. Recorded in one week last October in Austin, the core group of drummer Raymond Weber, pianist Henry Butler, organist Ivan Neville and two founding members of the Meters in bassist George Porter Jr. and guitarist Leo Nocentelli provides an appropriately funky setting for Dr. John (“Walking to New Orleans”), Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball (“Look Up”), Mardi Gras Indians chief Monk Boudreaux (the reggaefied “Chase”) and Willie Tee (the R&B ballad “First Taste of Hurt”).

Cyril Neville sings sweetly on the Impressions’ protest ballad “This Is My Country” while Ivan Neville delivers a blistering indictment on his funkified version of John Fogerty’s “Fortunate Son.” Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is featured on the buoyant calypso-flavored party number “Hey Troy, Your Mama’s Calling You” while Butler hits a dramatic peak with his soul-stirring rendition of “Somewhere” from West Side Story.

On the gospel tip are the Mighty Chariots of Fire, who offer a rousing “99 1/2 Won’t Do.” And the Subdues offer some sage advice for rebuilding the Crescent City in “Make a Better World.” An infectious second-line medley is offered by the Sixth Ward All-Star Brass Band Revue featuring Charles Neville, and the album closes on a reflective note with John Boute’s heart-wrenching cover of Annie Lennox’s “Why,” in which he inserts the lyrics “Why can’t you see that this bowl is sinking?” as a pointed reference to the city below sea level.

Originally Published