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What I’m Listening to on New Year’s Eve
Luther Allison: Reckless (Alligator)
Luther Allison could have been Hendrix. He’s guitar chops were just as dynamic and he had a more expressive voice. But American indifference to the blues in the 1970s drove Allison to exile in France. His triumphant return to the states was cut short by a brain tumor. This is electric blues that screams.
Huey "Piano" Smith and the Clowns: Having Fun (West Side)
Give or take, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint, the argument can be made that Huey Smith was the great rock piano player in New Orleans. He is certainly one of the most talented and under-appreciated songwriters (Rock and Roll Fever and Boogie Woogie Flu) in rock’s early and most glorious days. With Earl King on a sleazy guitar and transvestite Bobby Marchan on vocals, this collection makes a compelling case for Huey’s preeminence.
Roland Stone: Just a Moment (West Side)
Another largely forgotten R&B hero from the frenzied hey-day of New Orleans rock and roll, Roland Stone, born Roland LeBlanc, started out playing and writing songs with Mac Rebennack (aka Dr. John) in the late 1950s for Ace Records, string of hits from 1958 to 1961, including "Preacher’s Daughter," "Junco Partner," "Just a Moment," "Strollin’ My Baby Back Home" and "Because I Do." By 1964, Stone’s moment had passed and he bought a dry cleaning business. Still it was a helluva party while it lasted.
The Who: The Who Sell Out (MCA)
It was all downhill from here. But The Who Sell Out may have been the raunchiest raid on our sedate American sensibilities inflicted during the entire British invasion–including the one in 1812.
The Gap Band: Best of the Gap Band (Mercury)
Bacchanalian funk from the Dust Bowl. And you thought Woody Guthrie was the most radical sound to gusher forth from Oklahoma. Now, go burn some rubber …
Bob Marley and the Wailers: Babylon By Bus (Island)
Marley’s most joyous and danceable recording and, don’t ya know, "da Rasta man ain’t no CIA … "