‘Our New Orleans’ benefit CD brings listeners down South – Part 1

Trista Pinick

On principle, I do not like compilations. When I was 15, I made the mistake of buying a Smashing Pumpkins tribute album and to this day I am sure that a large part of my brain leaked out of my ears as I listened to it.

My main problem with tribute albums is the dissonance. It’s like listening to a 12-disc stereo on shuffle.

The instrumental “Canal Street Blues” was a bouncy dirge with a perfect amount of horns, but this tune crashed headlong into the call-response introduction of “Brother John is Gone.”

This type of injustice happened several times throughout the album, thoroughly destroying any redeeming tracks. I’m not sure who Dr. John is, but his vocals smacked of the sentimental interludes in the movie, “Toy Story,” and ruined any chance I might have given Irma Thomas to cover a Bessie Smith tune.

The organizational principles were under scrutiny from the very beginning. I do understand a phrase like “Yes we can” is inspirational, but “Yes We Can Can” by Allen Toussaint was the wrong choice for an opening. His voice was so jumpy and optimistic that I felt that I was being forced to get over the shock of Hurricane Katrina before I was able to mourn it.

Though I would never buy this CD with my own money, my editor did. This means that her money went to Habitat for Humanity for relief efforts on the Gulf Coast. A portion of these profits is also being used specifically for the housing of New Orleans musicians. This is absolutely super-duper, but I would rather write a check for $15. They can keep the CD.