Chris Kenner, Land of 1,000 Dances (Collectors Choice)

According to legendary New Orleans booking agent, Percy Stovall, Chris Kenner, “couldn’t sing, couldn’t dance, drank too much and dressed sloppy,” but the man left an amazing body of great music. This is a straight-up recycling of Kenner’s mid-1960s recordings on Atlantic (leased from the local Instant label) and undoubtedly ranks as one of the best 25 New Orleans albums of all time. Assembled from the crème de la crème of Kenner’s Instant singles, these tracks were produced by the then-ubiquitous Allen Toussaint. Toussaint’s approach to Kenner was similar to his approach to Lee Dorsey; he kept the arrangements simple to the point where a Kenner track sounded like a nursery rhyme. Case in point is Kenner’s biggest hit “I Like It Like That,” where Toussaint plays a simple, clipped 1-4-5 while Kenner urges the listeners, “Come on, let me show you where it’s at.” While it didn’t make noise out of the 504 area code, “Something You Got” inspired the Popeye dance, which took off in the South like the Twist did elsewhere. Kenner also had an introverted side, as “How Far” and “Go Thru Life” confirm here. Diamonds in the rough include “That’s My Girl” and “A Very True Story,” with their socking New Orleans beat. This is brilliant music from a man often forgotten in the history of New Orleans music.