Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Professor Longhair: The Last Mardi Gras [Atlantic/Deluxe, 1982]
Recorded live in two nights in 1978 by the odious Albert Goldman, this full-price double-album has a look of crass class--how many "Tipitina"s does the world need? And indeed, a few of the new tunes are genre exercises and many of Fess's vocal deviations fail to qualify as the jazzy fantasias Goldman palms them off as. Nevertheless, his Longhair is better performed (as well as much better recorded) than Nighthawk's Mardi Gras in New Orleans oldies and a lot steadier than Harvest's Live on the Queen Mary. And though the hard, punchy drive of Alligator's Crawfish Fiesta makes for a more consistently exciting record, the lazy insouciance of the tempos and horn parts here sure feels like New Orleans to me. A