Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Having a Good Time With Huey "Piano" Smith & His Clowns: The Very Best of, Volume 1
West Side

Once upon a time there was a budget label called Music Club that compiled 18 songs by this unlikely New Orleans hitmaker, three of which referenced diseases no less catchy than his piano style. As happens with novelty artists, his material soon ran thinner than hay fever mucus, so Music Club did well to find that many worth hearing. And as happens with budget labels, Music Club succumbed to impeded cash flow. This pricier 24-track collection features all the Music Club songs in almost the same order and a reframed version of the same cover photo. And though the six extras dilute Smith's appeal, it is your best shot at catching, or catching up with, the rockin' pneumonia that showed Dr. John his vocation.

This Is the Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Shout! Factory

Strange to think it, but this amorphous outfit--go ahead, name a soloist--may be New Orleans's most original modern band, and also its most típico, which is why. What could be more eclectically tourist friendly than bebop-flecked polyphony over "funk" bass played on a sousaphone doing tuba duty? Yet it can be fun, no quotation marks necessary, at least on this comp, which is both looser and less schlocky than the leavings strung together on the Columbia/Legacy's Jazz Moods--Hot cheapo--and includes a solo you'd want to ID, by one John Birks Gillespie, who provides a vocal you'd want to ID as well.

Village Voice, Oct. 11, 2005

Nov. 15, 2005 Nov. 15, 2005