Various Artists CD

New Orleans Gris GrisNew Orleans res

(Metro Select/Select)

Much of the American music that so comprehensively colonised the world during the last century can be traced back to one city: New Orleans. A unique musical crucible of brass band, ragtime, African, French, Spanish and Caribbean ingredients, it was the birthplace not only of jazz but also of rhythm and blues. This brilliant two‑CD compilation concentrates on the city’s peerless r&b output from Fats Domino to Dr John.

Embedded in this music were lingering elements of the voodoo religion that had come over with the West African slaves, and that celebrated the transformative powers of dance and sex. Soak voodoo in the blues and you pretty much have New Orleans r&b. A defining element is the super‑relaxed statement of the grooves (with the drummers playing right at the back of the beat against sparse bass lines), slow‑to‑mid tempos and uncluttered arrangements. The voodoo lust for achieving a trancelike state finds vent in the relentlessness and repetition.

Frustratingly these 40 recordings are not precisely dated, but most come from the 1960s, and you can hear the direct influence of New Orleans on the early Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals and the rest. This big, lazy wave of the Meters, Lee Dorsey, Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Slim Harpo and so many more inexorably drowns you in its voodoo spell.