Various Artists, Meet Me at Mardi Gras (Rounder Records)

Various Artists, Meet Me at Mardi Gras (Rounder Records)

Outside of the original Mardi Gras in New Orleans that appeared in the mid-1970s and 2000’s Mardi Gras Essentials, this CD is no better but no worse than the plethora of Mardi Gras CDs currently available. What does set Meet Me at Mardi Gras apart is that it probably has the longest time span of any of the compilations on the market, including tracks from the early 1950s to the almost-present day.

The earliest track, “Goin’ Back to New Orleans,” was recorded by a West Coast artist, Roy Milton, and it’s been a favorite of many for over a half-century. The most recent tracks, the Nightcrawlers’ “Funky Lisa” and The Soul Rebels’ “Say Na Hey,” are marginally Carnival songs, but they definitely flaunt the New Orleans second-line street beat. A couple of Cajun offerings are included here as Zachary Richard and Steve Riley join the party. So does Marcia Ball with “Big Shot.” Of the vintage material, Larry Williams contributes “Jockamo,” and while it doesn’t surpass Sugarboy’s original, it’s an A-1 rendering. Not surprisingly, there are a couple of Carnival classics in the mix—Al Johnson’s “Carnival Time” and Professor Longhair’s classic “Go to the Mardi Gras.” As great as it is to hear the latter, I’ve always wondered why the original Longhair version of this song has never made it onto a Mardi Gras CD, nor has Fats Domino’s mid-’50s classic cover, which is combination of New Orleans R&B and ska.

There’s really not a bad track on here, so if you’re looking for something different to listen to for this year’s Carnival, this should fit the bill.

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