Various Artists

Greatest Mardi Gras Concert Ever!

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Greatest Mardi Gras Concert Ever! Review

by Steve Leggett

The Greatest Mardi Gras Concert Ever isn't actually a concert but is instead a collection of archival live tracks from various Big Easy musicians, which doesn't diminish one bit this album's ability to convey the energy, joy, and showmanship that seems to be part and parcel of playing music in New Orleans. Opening with Professor Longhair's whistling Fat Tuesday anthem, "Mardi Gras in New Orleans," then following with Lee Dorsey's classic "Working in a Coal Mine," the enthusiasm never flags through Fats Domino's soothing, redemptive "Walking to New Orleans," or Allen Toussaint's "Play Something Sweet," while the Meters (billed here as the Funky Meters) deliver a 12-minute plus version of their signature song, "Fire On the Bayou." Things draw to a close with the great Louis Armstrong's calm, seemingly wryly resigned rendition of "Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans," a tourist staple that has taken on renewed poignancy in the wake of Hurricane Katrina's landfall on August 29, 2005, an event that devastated the Gulf Coast region and all but washed the culture that created this wonderfully unique music completely away. But the Big Easy's music has been out of the box now for a hundred years, and if there is any truth to the legend that trumpets will announce the opening of the gates of heaven, you can bet that St. Peter's horn men will all have come from New Orleans.

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