It”s almost Mardi Gras time in New Orleans, so in preparation for the holy observance of Fat Tuesday and girls gone wild, Rounder has released a pair of compilations that feature between them a combined 33 tracks of Big Easy favorites.

Paul Wong
Courtesy of W.W. Norton

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is pretty self-explanatory, a collection of traditional party songs that are as indigenous to the Crescent City as public urination and almost as satisfying. Bayou legends Buckwheat Zydeco and Marcia Ball lend their vocal talents to the cookin” “My Feet Can”t Fail Me Now” and “Big Shot,” respectively, and both the Rebirth and Dirty Dozen Brass Bands two of New Orleans” preeminent marching horns-and-percussion ensembles romp across several cuts in joyous second-line nature.

The album is a fun, diverse mix of street-beat funk, Creole-inflected zydeco numbers and parade route anthems, the perfect soundtrack to a wild time of drunken bead tossing or, as I like to call it, February.

However, just like realizing that the saucy Cajun woman groping you on Bourbon Street actually stole your wallet, Keep it Rollin” is a bit of a letdown. The compilation sets out to pay homage to the spirited, pumping left-hand style of New Orleans” piano greats, but, aside from Davell Crawford”s title cut and Tuts Washington”s “Arkansas Blues,” the album is about as lively as last week”s crawfish.

The compilation”s omissions of Professor Longhair and Fats Domino, the Obi-Wan and Luke Skywalker of New Orleans piano, respectively, are glaring to be sure, as most of the album”s 17 tracks are no more rollicking than the mild, lounge-blues dinner music at Zydeco on Main Street. Keep it rollin” right past this one at the record store and pick up some classic Longhair instead.

Grades:

B+ (“Mardi Gras in New Orleans”),

D+ (“Keep it Rollin””)

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