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Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint: Rerouting the River

Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello
Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint
Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello
Allen Toussaint in the studio recording A River in Reverse
Elvis Costello in the studio recording A River in Reverse

Two musical forces from wildly different backgrounds and a full generation apart-one steeped in 1950s New Orleans R&B, the other forged in the punk-new wave movement of 1970s London-came together late last year to work on some songs in the wake of the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brought on the city of New Orleans. The result of their unlikely collaboration is the powerfully cathartic The River in Reverse.

On the surface, it would appear that Allen Toussaint and Elvis Costello have very little in common; as odd a pairing as bangers and rice or red beans and mash. As it turns out, these two creative spirits – each a master craftsman who has exhibited a refined, “scary brilliance” throughout his career – have more in common than meets the eye. And together they proved to be a potent songwriting team on The River in Reverse.

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