I recall about 20 years ago finishing a 5K road race and the post-race entertainment on board a riverboat was Baton Rouge’s Johnny Ramistella, a.k.a. Johnny Rivers. Until I heard this CD recently, I’d forgotten how blown away I was that evening. Rivers left smoke on the bandstand after his set that night. This guy has still got it, and this release underlines that fact. Not surprisingly, Rivers’ hits “Summer Rain,” “Memphis” and “Baby, I Need Your Lovin’” are included, but there’s also an abundance of great surprises. Rivers and his crack band throw strikes on songs as varied as “Walkin’ Blues,” “Willie and the Hand Jive,” “It’s Alright” and “Knock on Wood.” There’s also a definite New Orleans influence here as Rivers covers “Sea Cruise,” “Barefootin’” and the inevitable “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.” Granted, there are a couple of frat party/Margaritaville moments here—“Brown Eyed Girl” and “Rock Me a Little While,” but I’m sure the Parisian audience did give le merde.
This isn’t just a walk down memory lane as there’s some inspired music here. Recommended.