Various Artists

Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans

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AllMusic Review by

It reads splendidly on paper: Shout Factory's Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans is a traveler's guide to the legendary city's rich musical heritage. Over the course of four discs, it attempts to touch on all of the kinds of music associated with New Orleans -- everything from brass bands and piano blues to zydeco, jazz and klezmer -- and represent recordings from the '20s to the modern day. Add an 84-page book, complete with advice on where tourists should go in the Crescent City, and it seems like this is the definitive word on New Orleans. Well, not quite. While the idea of mixing eras is theoretically appealing, since it would emphasize common threads within New Orleans music, it winds up being distracting not only because of the different qualities of recordings, but because the sequencing isn't logical; instead of leading the listener through the changes, subtly instructing on the similarities between the seemingly dissimilar styles, the box seems like it's stuck on shuffle-play, whipping between songs without much rhyme or reason. And that haphazard sequencing brings another troubling flaw with the set into sharp relief: the musicians behind the recent recordings simply aren't a patch on the giants that provide New Orleans music with its heart, soul, blood and bone. Those musicians are here, no doubt -- Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino, Dave Bartholomew, Allen Toussaint, the Meters, Professor Longhair, Smiley Lewis, the Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Huey "Piano" Smith -- are all here, but when they're combined with solid but undistinguished modern artists, the results are less than definitive. It's pleasant, and representative of what you'd hear on a trip to New Orleans, and the book is highly instructive, but as a pure, enjoyable listening experience, Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens pales next to previous New Orleans sets.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
0:15
2 4:28
3 2:07
4 4:08
5 2:54
6 4:01
7 3:17
8 4:36
9 2:19
10 5:05
11 3:38
12 2:32
13 4:30
14 4:11
15 4:03
16 3:13
17
3:48
18 3:01
19 2:17
20 5:28
21 2:51
22 3:13
23 3:35

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 2:39
2 4:43
3 4:29
4 3:15
5 3:40
6 2:25
7 5:46
8 2:23
9 3:31
10 4:52
11 2:28
12 5:25
13 3:03
14 2:32
15 5:01
16 4:03
17 3:53
18 3:43
19 3:49
20 3:39
21 2:58
blue highlight denotes track pick