Scoring an unexpected novelty hit with the title track in 1956, Henry disappeared from the charts for four years before roaring back with two smashes in the early '60s, "(I Don't Know Why) But I Do" and "You Always Hurt the One You Love." Actually, Clarence recorded a fair number of singles for Chess' Argo subsidiary between 1956 and 1964 in the relaxed New Orleans R&B styles of his big hits. Ain't Got No Home includes 18 of these sides, most of which were previously unavailable on U.S. album. Henry developed slightly over the course of his career, adding beefier horn sections that occasionally reached back to the spirit of Dixieland. Crescent City legends like saxophonist Lee Allen and pianists Allen Toussaint and Paul Gayton crop up on these sessions; when Henry traveled to Memphis for a session, he was backed by the all-star band of Bill Justis (guitar), Boots Randolph (sax), and Floyd Cramer (piano). A bit more eccentric and unpredictable than Fats Domino, not as contemporary or inventive as, say, Lee Dorsey, Henry's vocals were consistently warm and humorous, his recordings always polished. That said, the hits remain the standouts on this collection. The rest is pleasant and fun, but don't vary much from the prototype or cause exceptional interest. A couple tracks worth noting are "I Love You, Yes I Do," an R&B ballad subsequently covered by several acts during the '60s, and the 1964 single "Long Lost and Worried," written by a young Dr. John. The informative booklet includes a neat photo of Clarence with the Beatles, ironic considering that the British Invasion made types like Clarence an anachronism.
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AllMusic Review by Richie Unterberger