The Louisiana Record
Gulf Coast Records
Classy Re-Workings of Louisiana’s Finest Songs.
Sax player Jimmy Carpenter?
Never heard of him …… but when I saw that this was being released on Mike Zito’s Gulf Coast Records; and Zito himself pitched the idea of resurrecting a bunch of Louisiana themed songs to Jimmy Carpenter I was intrigued; and then a cursory look at the track list had me instantly reaching for the ‘on switch’ on the office hi-fi!
The result is a total blast from start to finish with some old standards getting a shiny overhaul, a couple of long forgotten belters brought to life for a new generation and even a couple of songs I’d never heard before quickly becoming family favourites – what’s not to like?
The ‘party‘ or should I say; ‘Fish Fry‘ starts with a sultry rendition of I Hear You Knocking; which I predominantly know as the Hit single for Dave Edmunds in my teenage years; but here Carpenter takes it right back to its roots with some honkin’ sax playing and gorgeous piano playing courtesy John Gros.
This is followed by a truly stompin’ and dancelicious I Got Loaded, which I didn’t recognise at all, but still couldn’t stop myself shuffling my hips and then my feet, the first time I played it; as I pretended I was in a steamy dive bar somewhere South of Baton Rouge, instead of a cold kitchen in NE England as the rain fell outside.
To me, even though I didn’t necessarily know that these songs were of Louisiana extraction; the selection is quite impeccable and while being all eminently danceable; several are thought provoking too in one way or another.
I’m particularly thinking about Pouring Water on a Drowning Man and Travellin’ Mood which I knew previously, but in these versions made me think about the shadows in the lyrics that I hadn’t previously noticed before.
This also applies to one of the songs I didn’t previously know; Something You Got which is a real ‘bum hugger’ of a slow burning and danceable love song that could easily be rearranged for guitars and pedal-steel instead of sax and piano to be a Country Heartbreaker; if I’m not mistaken.
In these edgy times; it’s been a real emotional release to hear the honky-tonkin’ and reelin’ and a rockin’ Barefootin’ again. These cats really get in a groove on a song I first discovered many moons ago when Robert Parker’s original version was featured on a cassette given away with NME magazine, and became a staple on my mixtapes for years afterwards.
I didn’t recognise the title of All These Things; but as soon as I heard the longing in Carpenters’ voice on the Allen Toussaint standard, I had to kick back and just wallow in the sound all concerned have created just for us.
Somewhere in my collection I’ve certainly got another version of Lonely Lonely Nights; and I think it’s a little bit faster than this tear-jerking version; but I can’t be bothered to look for it as I’ve taken this glorious version to heart.
As I sit listening and typing this morning, two albums from my teenage years suddenly sprung to mind; as to some degree both Bryan Ferry’s THESE FOOLISH THINGS and Harry Nilsson’s A LITTLE TOUCH OF SCHMILSSON IN THE NIGHT changed the way I listened to music; and certainly influenced the eclectic collection I now own; while also introducing me to songs and singers I’d never have found any other way.
Which brings me to the difficult choice of a single Favourite Track on an album that needs to be listened to as a complete package rather than dipping in and out of; a little part of me wants to choose the swinging instrumental Rockin’ At Cosimo’s which closes the album; but Carpenter and Crew’s steamy and sensual reworking of Sam Cooke’s Bring It on Home To Me had the hair on the back of my neck standing on end; so it had to be a contender too.
But I’m giving the accolade to a song I’d never heard before hearing it hear; and it’s one that Carpenter’s voice really shines on ….. Cry To Me, a timeless ballad that just oozes class in every note and stanza from start to finish.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first received this album; but it very quickly got put next to the hi-fi as a ‘palette cleanser’ at the end of the day; and it’s been a welcome companion in the car too ….. if only there was a Saturday night fish-fry I could take it to, too.
Released September 16th 2022
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