Lee Dorsey

Absolutely the Best

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Saying that one 16-track album represents "Absolutely the Best" from New Orleans R&B legend Lee Dorsey is a tall order, and most folks would reasonably argue this collection doesn't quite live up to that statement; outside of the opening cut, "Ya Ya," most of Dorsey's biggest hits (including "Working in a Coal Mine," "Ride Your Pony," "Holy Cow" and "Get Out of My Life, Woman") are missing, and the programming, which swings back and forth between material cuts in the 1960s and the '70s, doesn't seem to follow much coherent logic in terms of tracing the path of Dorsey's career. But it's also true that Lee Dorsey was one of the most consistent and purely enjoyable artists on the Crescent City music scene of the '60s and ‘70s, and if this was mostly cobbled together from album tracks rather than his peerless run of hit singles for Amy Records, the truth is, practically every song on this set is a winner, featuring Dorsey's sly, playful, but demonstrative vocals and accompaniment from some of New Orleans' finest and funkiest session cats (including the incomparable Allen Toussaint and members of the Meters on several cuts, though since there are no liner notes, you'll have to do some homework to figure out just how many). Any album that features Lee Dorsey singing "Yes We Can," "People Gonna Talk," "Give It Up," "Everything I Do Gohn Be Funky (From Now On)," and "Sneakin' Sally Through the Alley" is an album worth hearing and owning, and if every song from the disco era was as slinky and grooving as "Night People," people wouldn't have hated on the stuff so much. This is far from a definitive Lee Dorsey collection (Arista's Wheelin' and Dealin' remains your best choice if you want a single-disc career overview), but Absolutely the Best is a solid New Orleans funk session that's as tasty and satisfying as a shrimp po' boy sandwich.

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