The music here is really from the movie -- in this case a concert DVD and a documentary feature film. The fuss isn't so much about Deacon John himself -- a New Orleans legend, but barely known elsewhere -- but about the music itself: the jump blues so popular in the late '40s. However, Deacon John has a lexicon of major New Orleans names helping him out. The venerable Dr. John plays piano on several tracks, with another legend, Allen Toussaint, featured elsewhere. Wardell Quezergue, associated with Big Easy music for decades, provides the band charts. The musicians bring a springy rhythmic sensibility that could only come from one town. Deacon John himself (who played rhythm guitar on Lee Dorsey's "Working in a Coal Mine") is a more than adequate singer. He has a '50s quality to his voice, ideal for this music, soulful without ever being raw. When he turns over the mike to the Zion Harmonizers for a fiery a cappella "Jesus on the Mainline," they tear the house down in the finest '50s-style gospel. Teddy Boutté's version of "Piece of My Heart" is inspired by Erma Franklin's original rather than the overblown Janis Joplin cover for a piece of soulful glory. Two Dave Bartholomew tunes offer a doff of the cap to the marvelous Fats Domino, and Dr. John shows the inimical genius of the late Professor Longhair on "Tipitina." It all closes, as it should, with a jump version of "Going Back to New Orleans." So this is more than a jump blues record. Really, it's a celebration of the history of Crescent City music and, as such, it's pure pleasure.
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AllMusic Review by Chris Nickson
feat: The Zion Harmonizers