From the 19th century African music gatherings in Congo Square to the birth of jazz and its offshoots, New Orleans is one of America's most important music cities, and with the Rough Guide to the Music of New Orleans collection, listeners get a well-rounded taste of the Crescent City's musical gumbo. The collection touches on traditional jazz torchbearers (Dr. Michael White), classic R&B (Jessie Hill, Earl King), down-home funk (the Meters), Mardi Gras-ready brass players (Kermit Ruffins, Hot 8 Brass Band), global-influenced groovers (Los Hombres Calientes), and artists on the rise (Papa Grows Funk). While it's impossible to capture the full spectrum of New Orleans music on a single disc – women artists are underrepresented, and the NOLA hip-hop scene that's emerged since the 1990s is skipped entirely – this Rough Guide is a spirited introduction, and as a bonus is accompanied by a second disc featuring emerging heavy funk purveyors Dumpstaphunk.
Produced in part by Mike Vernon, who worked on The Legendary Christine Perfect Album, this is an entertaining and concise package of ten songs performed by the late Freddie King and a slew of guests. Opening with Gonzalez Chandler's "Pack It Up," featuring the Gonzalez Horn Section, the youthful legend was only 40 years of age when he cut this career LP two years before his death. Though no songs went up the charts like his Top Five hit in 1961, "Hide Away," Burglar is one of those gems that journeymen can put together in their sleep. Tom Dowd produced "Sugar Sweet" at Criteria Studios in Miami, FL, featuring Jamie Oldaker on drums, Carl Radle on bass, and guitarists Eric Clapton and George Terry, which, of course, makes this album highly collectable in the Clapton circles. The sound doesn't deviate much from the rest of the disc's Mike Vernon production work; it is pure Freddy King, like on the final track, E. King's "Come On (Let the Good Times Roll)," where his guitar bursts through the horns and party atmosphere, creating a fusion of the pure blues found on "Sugar Sweet" and the rock that fans of Grand Funk grooved to when he opened for that group and was immortalized in their 1973 number one hit "We're an American Band" a year after this record's release.