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Pelican (BK087)

An updated and revised version of the definitive history of New Orleans rhythm and blues, originally published in the UK as Walking to New Orleans.

First published in 1974 as Walking To New Orleans, John Broven presented the history of New Orleans rhythm and blues from the 1940s through to the 1960s. This history was initially told by focussing largely on the artists and their recorded legacy, featuring Fats Domino, Ray Charles, Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith, Dr John, Allen Toussaint, Little Richard and plenty of other well and little-known names.

Subsequent updates and revisions later in the 1970s and into the 1980s corrected some factual errors and made up for obvious omissions (along with changing the book’s title to Rhythm And Blues In New Orleans to keep the US publishers onside) but this is the first substantive revision of the book, and is now, even more than before, as definitive a rise and fall story as can be hoped for.

This new edition has over 100 additional pages incorporating new interviews and more recently sourced information. This not only enhances and updates viewpoints on the careers and music of the major R&B artists but also adds a broader context to our understanding by better incorporating the stories of important Crescent City recording studios, clubs and record companies.

Also updated and improved upon are the number and quality of photographs, now totalling over 100, and a much fuller  appendix. This features a completely new discography of recommended albums to explore and a much more extensive bibliography of sources consulted in the writing and subsequent updating of the book.

Having bought my copy of the second edition of this book in a small bookshop on Bourbon Street in 1987 I am loathe to dispense with it and will be keeping it on my bookshelf just for reasons of nostalgia. It is however this substantially improved and enhanced new edition that is now the ‘go-to’ guide to be read for pleasure and consulted for information for years to come.

Review first posted on this site August 2016


Review Date: April 2018

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