This anthology of New Orleans R&B is a little undersold by the packaging, which lists the song titles on the back cover, but not the artists. The track listings on the inner sleeve do at least give the personnel on each recording, leaving the hapless consumer to make the final, intuitive leap of logic to deduct that the vocalist is the actual performer. At any rate, it's a decent 24-track grouping of very early New Orleans R&B performances, spanning 1947-1950, laying some important groundwork for early rock & roll before rock & roll had a name. Aside from Fats Domino's "The Fat Man" and Professor Longhair's "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" and "Bald Head," it's doubtful that any of these tunes are instantly familiar to many rock and blues fans, though Archibald's "Stack-A-Lee" is the first R&B adaptation of a folk song that also provided the basis for Lloyd Price's huge pop hit "Stagger Lee." Overall it's solid, if sometimes generic and lo-fi, New Orleans R&B with more of a blues/boogie/jazz base than the more widespread New Orleans rock sounds of the last half of the 1950s, also including tracks by noted Crescent City figures Paul Gayten, Roy Brown, Dave Bartholomew, and Smiley Lewis. Professor Longhair, whether under the name of Roy Byrd or his nom de plume, is the most frequent contributor, with nine songs. Those looking for something more obscure may be satisfied by the inclusion of efforts by Joseph August, Chubby Newsome, and Jewel King.
The Carnival Day: The Essential Recordings of New Orleans Review
by Richie Unterberger