Various Artists, Get You A Healin’ (Independent)

Get You a Healin’ is one topic-oriented benefit album that doesn’t trip over its own shoes making its point. Dozens of musicians, some of whom have dealt with serious health problems in the past, combined to take a balanced and often humorous look at the things that ail them, with the proceeds going to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic (NOMC).

The title track sets a hard-grooving tone from the Gyptians, a collaboration between Phish bassist Michael Gordon and keyboardist Page McConnell; funky Meters fut Neville on Hammond B3 organ, George Porter Jr. on vocals; and Russell Batiste on drums. They hammer away for over eight minutes before Coco Robicheaux and Maria Muldaur check in with the sultry “Louisiana Medicine Man.”

Muldaur also contributes a terrific duet version of her showstopper “Don’t You Feel My Legs” in a duet with its originator, the late “Blue Lu” Barker. One of New Orleans’ best new rock bands, Tiny Town, contributed a cover of James Booker’s “Look What I Got,” a strong track that features the stellar matchup of TT’s Tommy Malone with big brother Dave Malone of the preeminent New Orleans rock group The Radiators.

After the funky Meters reappear with a high-powered version of the Huey “Piano” Smith classic “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” guitarist Bobby Broussard and vocalist/harpist Jo-Jo Reed combine on the devastating anti-cancer statement “The Smokin’ Lung Blues.” Dr. Johnn calls in Art Neville for a second opinion before diagnosing the condition “Virus Called the Blues” in another collaborative highlight.

Several songs on the disc are tributes to lost musician friends. Smilin’ Myron and Friends dedicated “Sugar Butt” in memory of one of his band’s founding members, guitarist Tim Guarisco, an uninsured musician who died of cancer at age 27. George Porter Jr. offered a heartfelt tribute to another cancer victim, Johnny Adams, “Da Medicine Man.” Big Chief Donald Harrison Sr., who also passed last year, was remembered by the Guardians of the Flame Mardi Gras Indians on the closing track “Big Chief Had A Heart of Steel.”

The record also strikes a positive note with Wardell Quezergue & His Slammin’ Big Band playing “Fit As a Fiddle” in tribute to the New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic.

Not only does this album serve a good cause, it offers a great cross-section of New Orleans music. For more information and donations contact the LSU Medical Center Foundation, 1600 Canal Street, Suite 1010, New Orleans, Louisiana 70112. 504-568-3712.