It is ironic to call this five-song CD Originals as Big Chief Alfred Doucette does what folk singers and blues musicians have done forever in adapting old melodies and chord progressions for his own purposes.
There is nothing at all wrong or illegitimate in this approach. Via lyrics, rhythms and instrumentation, Doucette and his band add their own slant to what has come before.
The record opens with the musicians taking “Mama Don’t Allow” and putting his own lyrics, listing all the great musicians and characters that become subjects in “In New Orleans There Ain’t No Party Without Us.” It’s a great party track, but shows one of the flaws in the CD in that sometimes Doucette’s voice is placed too softly in the mix.
“We’re Gonna Second Line All Over Town” continues the celebratory vibe with trumpeter James Andrews darting and blowing lines between the vocals and the rest of the band in a powerful and soulful way.
The album climaxes on the third track, Doucette’s most famous tune, “Marie Laveau.” Over the “Lil Liza James” groove, Doucette weaves the tale of Marie Laveau and adds some great Jamaican toasting vocals to vary it up. Throughout the record, the band does a fantastic job of keeping up the New Orleans second line and street beats that never fail to get the audience’s backfield in motion (to quote Irma Thomas).
Doucette ends this recording with a shout out to the New Orleans Saints in “Louisiana Pray” and a great rewrite of Professor Longhair’s “Hey Now Baby” called “Three In the Morning” with vintage Fess licks courtesy of Mike Hood and Doucette encouraging listeners to keep the hang going until sunrise. Overall, these songs have worked for decades as great tracks, and Doucette’s singing and lyrics bring out the fun nature of the music.