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The Professor's Pontifications on 2011

The best of 2011 included the return of some greats we’ve missed for a while, the continuing resurgence of the Crescent City scene and the continuing development of a hybrid soul/funk/rock sound that represents the older sounds of soul music’s heyday with a distinctly current feel. There were also a few absolute “must-be-in-your-house” reissues!

Here’s how they stacked up but in (no particular hierarchy):

Welcome Back!
  • Greg Allman, Low Country Blues, Rounder (Singing great and breathing real life into blues classics)
  • Dave Alvin, Eleven Eleven, Yep Roc (Great stories, roots rock & country)
  • Cake, Showroom of Compassion, Upbeat (Quirky energy and interpersonal vision)
  • Ry Cooder, Pull Up Some Dust And Sit Down, Nonesuch (The present seen through the eye of the Great Depression; social and political commentary with attitude)
  • Steve Earle, I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive, New West (Lyrical intensity with plenty of attitude and grit)
  • Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Rocket Science, E-One (The original group reunited; amazing in every way and it’s fun!)
  • Booker T. Jones, The Road From Memphis, Anti (This was the return we were waiting for - classic, yet fresh)
  • Paul Simon, So Beautiful So What, Hear Music (Master of pop craft at his best, seeming simplicity with great depth)
  • Tom Waits, Bad As Me, Anti (Terrific songs, thoughts, characterizations, one of his best ever)

In its own class: Tedeschi-Trucks Band, Revelator, SONY Masterworks (Terrific performances, the best for Tedeschi while Trucks shows his mastery as a leader and an accompanist)

My 2011 New Orleans “Wax Devoid of Cracks” (Should the modern version of that be “Plastic that is flat fantastic” or  “Stream that is just ON the beam”?)
  • Galactic, The Other Side of Midnight: Live in New Orleans, Anti (Genuine brass band funk at it’s absolute best)
  • Trombone Shorty, For True, Verve Forecast (Blending the traditional style with “NOW” and it works so very well)
  • Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars, Box of Pictures, Voice of the Wetlands (More classic sound from Dr. John, Cyril Neville,Tab Benoit, George Porter, et.al.)

THE SOUL SOUND:
  • Charles Bradley, No Time For Dreaming, Dunham (This man has a voice that can peel the paint!  Tough, gospelized, soul music)
  • J.C. Brooks & The Uptown Sound, Want More, Bloodshot (Soul music that harks a little further back sound-wise, but it will get you up on the floor!  Before the funk era)
  • Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Soul Time, Daptone, (A collection of material that hasn’t been released before, but has been part of her performance material.  This is the group that started this nouveau soul funk revival.)
  • Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Scandalous!, Lost Highway (This is some funk rock that has a sense of humor and some beat that can’t be beat!)
  • The Revelations, featuring Tre Williams, Concrete Blues, Decision (This group has a soul blues influence and focuses more on the mainstream music styles rather than funk.   This, too, is mostly original music with modern and “classic” soul references.)
  • Various Artists, Daptone Gold, Daptone (A terrific cross section of the amazing soul and funk releases from the folks who have consistently reminded us how potent soul is!)
Remember: Soul music is good for your attitude, your health and your level of joy!!!

Finally, a few essential reissues:
  • Various, The Fame Studios Story, Kent (Classic soul music studio in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, whose output was second only to Stax.  Absolutely essential!)
  • Charles “Packy” Axton, Late Late Party,  Light in the Attic (Music from an early member of the Mar-Keys of “Last Night” fame.  Most is closely related to that sound and the sound of Booker T & the MGs. )
  • Hermon Hitson, You Are Too Much For The Human Heart, Soul-Tay-Shus (Classic, burning soul music!  Fans of OV Wright and James Carr defintely want to check this out!)
  • Bobby Marchan, Get Down With It, Kent (All from the 60s, Marchan is in great voice! These are post-NOLA, recorded at Stax, Fame, and American studios.)
  • Pearl Woods, Sippin’ Sorrow (With A Spoon), Night Train (This is pre-Soul. One who didn’t make it, but wrote and demoed songs.  Not an essential, but for those who are interested in the r&b that eventually led to soul, this is a very good listen.)
Copasetically,

Bebop

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