I was browsing through the CD’s at the Boston Public Library and found some nice jazz, classical and classic rock to borrow to drop into my cd player, and I found a disk from an artist that plays frequently in New Orleans that is so good that I have to tell y’all about.
I first heard Marcia Ball not when I lived in the Crescent City but on a compilation of Mardi Gras music in Boston about 10-15 years ago. I loved her song “That’s Enough of that Stuff” and while i lost the cd in a move years ago I made a point of finding an MP3 of it a few years ago.
At the library I saw Marcia’s “Peace, Love & BBQ” and grabbed it just to check out more of her tunage. I was hooked from the first tune, “Party Time”, which was a perfect first tune from Marcia to hear after “That’s Enough of That Stuff”. The title track follows and cemented my love of her music.
“Miracle in Knoxville”, relating a story from Marcia’s childhood in Tennessee, grabbed me with it’s mellow blues, and “Watermelon Time” made me hungry for the produce that’s truly “Sweet as candy / Sugar on the vine.”
“Down in the Neighborhood” reminded me of The Radiator’s “Confidential” thematically and I was definitely bopping along with it. “Where Do You Go?”, with it’s Hammond B-3 foundation and the choral-like harmonies on the chorus sent my mind back to the gospel choirs I enjoyed as a kitteh in ‘Nawlins. “My Heart and Soul” set my feet a tapping, something I do fairly readily even when I’m mixing live sound.
I was totally unprepared for the duet with Mac “Dr. John” Rebenack on “My Heart and Soul”. I already knew I wanted to tell a special woman about the album, but when I heard this tune I knew I not only had to get it for myself, I also had to get it for my special someone, too. (Yeah, as an incurably hopeful romantic I’m a sucker for songs like this.) There are many killer lines I could share, but I don’t want to spoil any of them so I won’t.
“That’s Married Life” is the perfect follow up, humorous with it’s Cajun feel, and I dare anyone who loves to dance to a Cajun accordion player to stay in their seat when this song comes on. If my marriage had been half as much fun as this song I might still be in New Orleans with my ex rather than in Beantown.
Marcia goes mellow again for “Falling Back In Love With You”, and it’s a beautiful little ditty for those lucky enough to be with someone long enough to fall in love with them over and over again. She fires up a little boogy-woogie for those of us who seem to know hard times and seem to keep falling “Right Back In It”.
We get a reflective walk down memory lane to 1969′s Hurricane Camille for “Ride it Out” and Marcia breaks her fast/slow pattern that makes my one complaint of the album (it makes it hard to keep a mood for longer than a single song) to bring the disk to a close with “I Wish You Well”, an especially fitting close for an album that carries her thanks to “the people of the Gulf Coast, post-Katrina, post-Rita, who hold it together day-to-day.”
If I were reviewing new(-ish) albums on a regular basis, I’d have to give “Peace, Love & BBQ”
out of a possible 5 rockin’ Tuxes.
If you like the New Orleans music of The Meters, The Nevills, Sachmo, Irma Thomas, etc., you’ll love this album. If you’re not a big fan of la musique de la Nouvelle-Orléans you should check it out anyway. Consider it an exercise in music appreciation. I have a feeling it may get a place in your music library, if not a place of honor. You can snag the MP3′s from Amazon, but I recommend that you get the physical disk. Not only will you get the liner notes but you’ll also have excellent source material for converting the songs to your favorite audio format.
“Peace, Love & BBQ”
2008 release on Alligator Records
For those of you in the Boston area, you can see Marcia live at Scullers Jazz Club this Wednesday and Thursday, 1-2 March.