The River In Reverse [CD/DVD Combo] CD+DVD
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Those of us fortunate enough to attend this year's Jazz Fest got a sneak preview of this album, and we knew it was going to be great.
Before the Jazz Fest performance, I was only familiar with Toussaint's more popular songs such as "Working in a Coal Mine" and "Fortune Teller." I was also very aware his masterful piano playing ability and his incredible horn arrangements. One thing I didn't fully appreciate was the depth and breadth of his songwriting.
After an extremely upbeat opening set by Toussaint and his band, Costello joined him on stage for a string of songs beginning with "On Your Way Down," the same song that opens this CD. The biting lyrics made me think it was co-written by Elvis Costello, but I found out later it was indeed entirely written by Toussaint years ago. The song eerily evoked the political mood in post-Katrina New Orleans and seems to be a perfect opener for this album - especially considering some of Costello's more biting lyrics later on.
As he did in New Orleans, Costello evokes a soulfulness on this record that hasn't sounded this strong since Get Happy, and now that his voice has matured even more he sounds even better - especially on "Nearer to You."
Allen Toussaint's vocals shine on "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further.Read more ›
The idea for record probably started after the flood of New Orleans. In the accompanying DVD Costello explains it was initially intended as a Toussaint songbook effort. While working on the project it evolved into more than that. Some five songs here are new collaborations between Costello and Toussaint. What immediately strikes you is how well these two gentlemen complement each other. Elvis' somewhat nasal and sandy voice is balanced out by the ever friendly and gentle backing vocals of Allen, the gruff instrumentations of the Attractions complemented by Toussaint's own Funky horn section and elegant piano playing.
Thematically the album approaches that of a protest album. Costello still proves to be the angry young man he was at the start of his career, albeit not so young anymore. Toussaint classics as "On Your Way Down" and "Who's Gonna Help A Brother Get Further" are complemented with the new "River in Reverse", a beautiful snarling track filled with horror about what occurred in the Crescent City. The album is filled out with some beautiful love songs from the Toussaint catalog that function as a counter to the political material and bring balance to the record. Elvis delivers al these songs with a passion and conviction you haven't heard from him in years. The album is an emotional rollercoaster, it makes you want to laugh, dance, sing, cry and scream, all in the course of an hour.Read more ›
Oddly enough, it is the catalog numbers from Toussaint that really bring out the soul to "The River In Reverse." Versions of "Tears and More Tears," "Freedom for the Stallion" and "Who's Gonna Help Brother Get Further" (with the lead sung by Toussaint) make their emotional mark to the time, even despite their age. Toussaint's arrangements (often not varying much from their older recordings) also draw out some of Costello's better vocal skills. He sounds more soulful here than on his "My Flame Burns Blue" CD, released with the same year as "The River In Reverse."
Toussaint also managed most of the production duties on "The River In Reverse," and it is to the CD's benefit. Neither as creamy smooth as "North," disjointed like "When I Was Cruel," or as raw and rugged and "The Delivery Man," the music here strikes the perfect balance. It is Costello's best sounding disc since "Painted From Memory" with Burt Bacharach. (Oddly enough, also a collaboration with one of Costello's idols.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This album is fantastic. I play it all the time in my car and have given it as gifts...Published 9 days ago by Book Lover
With the premature death this week of one of the greatest of New Orleans' performers, Mr. Allen Toussaint, I've been going through my collection listening to the Warner Brothers... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Luigi Facotti
This is a FABULOUS CD!!! Great music by two accomplished musiciansPublished 8 months ago by L. Brooks
This is a great album of blues. I highly recommend this one to any Elvis Costello fan.Published 12 months ago by Philip D Broughton
Every Costello fanatic will tell you it's genius and those who love his 1st 3 albums will tell you it's crap. Read morePublished 19 months ago by K. H. Orton
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