Johnny Adams

New Orleans Rhythm & Blues, Vol. 1

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The title is a bit misleading. BEST OF NEW ORLEANS RHYTHM & BLUES, VOLUME 1 is essentially Johnny Adams' album of soul covers. Adams was, of course, born in New Orleans, and he remained a big local favorite until his death in 1998. But only a few of the songs he remakes here-Aaron Neville's "Tell it Like it Is" being the best known-are associated with Crescent City artists.

In any event, this isn't Adams' best record. The sound and instrumental backing are wildly inconsistent, and the whole thing feels suspiciously like a collection of demos. That said, Adams is one of the true, unheralded masters of R&B and soul, and he's in fine form throughout the album. A faithful version of Toussaint McCall's "Nothing Compares to You" is a real spine tingler, while Adam's trademark falsetto gets a terrific workout on the uptempo "Spanish Harlem."

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