Friday, November 2, 2007

No. 220: New Orleans Piano

Band: Professor Longhair
Album: New Orleans Piano
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: One of the best early rock and roll singers, Professor Longhair's version of blues was one of the most important influences on the New Orleans music scene. He was a huge inspiration for The Meters and Dr. John.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: This is about right for this collection of singles.
Best song: "Professor Longhair Blues" is the most bluesy on the album and the best.
Worst song: "Tiptina" is kind of repetitive, but it has excellent wordplay. It's a good song, just not great. That's how awesome this record is.
Is it awesome?: Yes

Professor Longhair was called the Bach of Rock and Roll for his clear and syncopated compositions. I don't know what his place is in rock and roll history, but if this record is any indication, it had a huge influence.

"New Orleans Piano" is full of 12-bar blues arrangements that were the foundation of early rock and roll ("Ball The Wall" sounds like something Chuck Berry would've played, for example). The record consists of his singles for Atlantic records recorded from 1949-1953, before Elvis Presley was rocking out for Sun.

It's called "blues," but if this record isn't one of the most clear rock and roll records you've ever heard, I'm a ham sandwich. The raucous vocals, the easy couplet and the rock and roll bass all indicate not a blues record, but rather a rock and roll record.

For what it's worth, this collection is amazing. Professor Longhair's music rocks. Songs like "Hey Little Girl" are what the early rock and roll songs are: Rousing twelve-bar rockers about sex and having fun.

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