The Other Side of Midnight: Live in New Orleans

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For those who've been among the Galactic faithful from the beginning, The Other Side of Midnight: Live in New Orleans is the big payoff. It's not that there is a dearth of sanctioned live material, either: their 2008-2010 New Orleans Jazz Fest gigs were issued by MunckMix; and way back in 2001, We Love 'Em Tonight: Live at Tipitina's was issued as well. But Other Side of Midnight is an entirely different level. Recorded at Tipitina's in October of 2010, this disc follows the issue of Galactic's musical masterpiece, Ya-Ka-May and the core band -- saxophonist Ben Ellman, bassist Robert Mercurio, drummer Stanton Moore, guitarist Jeff Raines, and organist Rich Vogel --was at its tightest. Anti ponied up a budget for this set as well: engineered by the Crescent City's mad genius Misha Kachkachshvili, with a live mix by Ryan Jones, the sound quality on this date is big, fat, dynamic, and hot. That said, Galactic seems to be at its best when collaborating with guests and there are plenty here. Trombone Shorty stops by for a rollicking live reprise of "Cineramascope," from Ya-Ka-May (with added trumpet of Shamarr Allen who appears on most tracks here); Legend Cyril Neville lends his vocals to a nasty version of the Meters' classic "Gossip" (which also features the Rebirth Brass Band's Corey "Boe Money" Henry's trombone), and the hard-rocking "Heart of Steel." Henry's rap fronts Galactic and the Soul Rebels Brass Band on the title track off From the Corner to the Block. Whether it's the scorching yet humorous Eastern European brass band music-meets-Mardis Gras street party on "Balkan Wedding," the careening brassy funk of "Garbage Truck," or the driving, knotty brass band (the Soul Rebels again) and rhythm section jazz changes in "Boe Money," the grooves are non-stop, over the top, and firmly in the pocket, no matter how wild things get. Nola's gender blender bounce star Big Freedia handles the encore on a maniacal reprise one of Ya-Ka-May's best tracks, "Double It." Clocking in at an hour, this set is pure party from beginning to end and belongs in any serious collection of New Orleans music in general, and more specifically, in every Galactic fan's. Period.

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