It's hard for us not to cry over the passing of this New Orleans legend, but this collection of his first (1959-1963) recordings for the Ric label definitely cushions the blow. Johnny's chilling falsetto-and production by a young Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack-make these 14 sides true New Orleans soul classics. Includes the hits Oh Why I Won't Cry and A Losing Battle , plus You Can Make It If You Try; Teach Me to Forget; Who Are You; Come On; Lonely Drifter; Life Is a Struggle , and more.
Another gospel boy gone blues-bad, Johnny Adams delivered the secular goods from the get-go. The title track, penned by Tutti Frutti lyricist Dorothy Labostrie, established the Louisiana balladeer as a regional sensation. "A Losing Battle," written, produced, and piano-styled by the then-unknown Mac Rebennack (Dr. John), went even further. Though none of his subsequent Ric releases did nearly as well, stellar performances such as "You Can Make It If You Try" and "Life Is a Struggle" indicate that this was due more to Ric's inability--or unwillingness--to move out of his regional mindset. Backed by Edgar Blanchard and his Gondoliers, this collection is the classic beginning to a long and distinguished career. --Ben Edmonds