Play Something Sweet: Allen Toussaint's Finest

Allen Toussaint in 2009
Photo Credit
Barry Brecheisen/WireImage

The music that emanated from New Orleans always had soul – born in the streets, in the drum circles and jazz funerals, the second-line brass and the legendary figures like King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Louis Prima, Fats Domino and Roy Brown. Allen Toussaint came from those same streets, soaked up all the influences the city had to offer and with contemporaries like Irma Thomas, Ernie K-Doe, the Neville Brothers and Dr. John, took the soul of the city’s music and injected it into a whole new kind of sound, then taking it to the masses.

When Toussaint died on Nov. 10, 2015, those who knew his music reflected back on a lifetime of great songs, and though it’s impossible to pick the best (that’s such a subjective thing), we have our favorites. Among them are these:

Ernie K-Doe, “Mother-in-Law”: According to legend, Toussaint – who wrote, produced and played piano on “Mother-in-Law” – was so frustrated with trying to record the tune in the studio, he literally threw away the song’s sheet music in frustration. A background singer picked it up and convinced everyone to try it one more time. The recording of that take became a No. 1 record.

READ MORE: Happy Birthday, Ernie K-Doe!

Dr. John, “I Been Hoodood”: Dr. John might’ve written this song, but Toussaint produced the record – as deep a funk record as you’re likely to hear from New Orleans or anywhere else, for that matter.

The Pointer Sisters, “Yes, We Can Can”: This early Pointer Sisters jam was written by Toussaint and can still get feet moving and hips shaking. The harmonies on the chorus will make your ears happy, too.

READ MORE: July 1980: The Pointer Sisters Release "He's So Shy"

Lee Dorsey, “Working in the Coal Mine”: Toussaint wrote and co-produced this 1966 single, which gave Dorsey his first hit in five years.

Allen Toussaint, “Southern Nights”: If you know this song, you probably know Glen Campbell’s 1977 country-pop cover, which hit No. 1 that year. Toussaint’s original (the title track to his 1975 album) is super trippy, his vocal processed to within an inch of its existence – light years away from Campbell’s radio-friendly version. Once you’ve heard the original, though, it’s the only version you’ll want to hear.

Elvis Costello & Allen Toussaint, “Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further”: The unlikely combination of British New Wave icon Costello and Toussaint was a winner, and 2006’s The River in Reverse is all the proof you need. The two trade off vocals on this cut, and a combo of Costello’s band and the cream of New Orleans players cooks behind them.

Artist Name

Read More

(Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
“What happened in China, in Europe, it came here. So if we don’t save our brothers there, it’s going to come home. It’s all of us. All of us are in this together."
article column overlay
Scepter Records; Atlantic Records

It's always fun when the biggest pop hits are ones nobody expects.

article column overlay
Rob Verhorst/Redferns
There's another Motown-related law suit simmering away that involves Ed Sheeran, echoing the recent one where Marvin Gaye’s estate successfully sued Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams over their “Blurred Lines” runaway hit.
article column overlay

Facebook Comments