Allen Toussaint – “Allen Toussaint” - Varese Fontana - 1971
Allen Toussaint was a force in New Orleans music during the 1960s, but outside of the city, he was virtually unknown. He was a writer, producer, session piano player and backup vocalist on some of the biggest hits of the decade to come out of New Orleans, but stars like Lee Dorsey and Irma Thomas, whose names were front and center on chart-topping singles, received most of the limelight.
It must have been liberating for Toussaint, then, when he finally got the chance in 1970 to record his solo album "Allen Toussaint." Released from the shackles of the producer chair, Toussaint went to work to create a seminal album that helped to establish funk music as we know it today.
Allen Toussaint was an important turning point for Toussaint. This is the album where he evolved his ‘60s R&B sound into a bluesy funk style that, unlike his earlier hits, sounds just like what’s played to this day in Frenchmen clubs. Even his original songs that were made hits by other musicians – “Working in the Coalmine” and “Everything I Do Gonna be Funky,” for instance – get a redressing here with a full, more layered sound.
Toussaint would later go on to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career, spending the ‘70s writing and performing on albums by The Meters, Dr. John, The Wild Tchoupitoulas, The Band and more. He’d even go on to top "Allen Toussaint" with the legendary 1975 album "Southern Nights," considered by many his best work. But it’s clear when looking back that this album was the spark that transformed Toussaint’s career.