Various Artists

New Orleans Popeye Party

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The popeye was a hugely popular dance in New Orleans during the early '60s in the wake of Chubby Checker's national smash "The Twist." Originating with Eddie Bo's Crescent City classic "Check Mr. Popeye," the popeye was a rather stiff, inelegant dance requiring participants to stand bowlegged with their elbows pointed outwards, virtually demanding clunky hobbling around the dancefloor. The merits of the dance itself notwithstanding, the popeye inspired some fantastic R&B typified by thick, funky rhythms and just a hint of the languorous melodies that would soon come to define New Orleans soul; the cream of the crop makes up New Orleans Popeye Party, a 23-track compilation that nicely manages to survey almost the entire breadth of popeye's moment of glory. The original "Check Mr. Popeye" is here, of course, as are contributions from other New Orleans legends like Huey Smith ("Popeye"), Willie Tee ("Always Accused"), and Frankie Ford ("You Talk Too Much"). Like much of Night Train's output, the fidelity isn't great, with some cuts sounding like they were mastered directly from vinyl. But the scarcity of material and its overall quality makes it worth picking up nevertheless.

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