Monday, September 26, 2022

A Forgotten Gem From Johnny Adams


A few weeks back, the Tipitina's Record Club announced their September release, Johnny Adams' "After All The Good Is Gone" and there was a brief discussion in the chat box about it. Our friend Troy asked what we thought of the record. New Orleans native and friend of Burning Wood pmac and I agreed that there were better Johnny Adams records to release and we proceeded to offer alternatives.

I got my copy this weekend and I must admit, this is a far better record than I remember. I still say there are better records from Adams, but "After All The Good Is Gone" is a keeper, and honestly, it's one of the more consistent long players in Adams catalogue.

The secret weapon to any Johnny Adams record is his voice. As the liner notes point out, his shift from full voice to falsetto is magical. They called him "The Tan Canary," an unfortunate sobriquet, for sure. But it's damn accurate.

Produced by Senator Jones, with some arrangements by another New Orleans legend Wardell Quezergue, this record is the perfect combination of country and soul, with no less than three Conway Twitty covers, as well as unique and somewhat dramatic readings of Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere" and Carole King's "One Fine Day." 

I won't deny that my low expectations worked in this record's favor, but who really cares? "After The Good Is Gone" is a worthy addition to anyone's catalogue of music and if you've got little to no Johnny Adams in your library, there is absolutely nothing wrong with starting here. I should have put a little more faith in Tipitina's curators, even if the last release, a very weak live recording from Etta James, left me cold. They can't all be winners. But ten releases into the club and I have loved just about all of them.

You can access the club here.

As far as record clubs go, Tip's is leading the pack. Beautiful pressings, each with a surprise lagniappe, like a one of a kind slipmat or for this release, a Johnny Adams key chain.

Next month, a rare live Fats Domino performance. But for now, give these Johnny Adams cuts a spin and maybe even join the club.


Troy said...

My copy came in over the weekend, but I was out of town. Looking forward to giving it a spin tonight, and am glad that you enjoyed it more than you remembered.

As for the Etta James album, I went back and listened again. I still really like the first side (I'm a big fan of those songs in general), but the second side kind of reminded me of a Blues Brothers concert, where the band is jamming on some blues riffs, but you're not even sure the lead singer is still there. I never got to see Etta live, so don't have anything to compare to. Overall, I still think it's ok.

Looking forward to the Fats Domino record!!

Sal Nunziato said...

I have a few issues with the Etta James.
It's not a great period for her. It was still a few years before her clean-up and her legitimate comeback and I think it sounds like it. It has a very Vegas-y, by the book feel to it.
I also don't like the sound of the recording. Just seems like Tip's had the tape, got the okay to release it and so they did.
But to each his own, as every one always tells me!
Your Blues Brothers comment is spot on.

Having nothing to do with the live album, but a great story:

New Orleans piano player David Torkanowsky told a story once about how he had overbooked himself for gigs, with two ending up on the sane night. One of those gigs was with Etta James. But the other paid more. Knowing Etta would rake him over the coals if he left her high and dry, he made sure he had a suitable replacement. Etta didn't care. She pretty much blacklisted Tork from then on and didn't speak to him for years. The replacement Tork supplied, by the way...Allen Toussaint.

pmac said...

The Adams' lp they released is not bad (in my opinoin), its just that there are so many better ones. That was my nitpick with the choice. Sometimes I think they just release things to fulfill their once a month quote (like the Etta lp - OZ played one side the other day and it was not good). But, I'm glad Tips has figured out a way to augment their income and keep the place afloat. That's the overriding goal to all of this.

Troy said...

Great story, Sal, on Allen Toussaint covering for Torkanowsky in Etta's band!

I still use Facebook, and the site reminded me that today is the 13th anniversary of me getting to see Allen Toussaint in my front row seats at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music. What an amazing night that was!

hpunch said...

Front row for Allen Toussiant? Troy you are my hero

pmac said...

@hpunch - for many years prior to Katrina, Toussaint rarely performed live, and when he did, it usually was without any real fanfare (or fans). Back in the late 80s I went to some sort of a party/fundraiser at a then just opened skyscraper in downtown New Orleans. Lots of tuxes and long gowns. Heard a piano playing a song that sounded familiar and made my way to it. It was Toussaint playing a baby grand, basically as background music. I was the only person who was watching and listening to him perform. Made having to rent the damn tux (and wear it) worthwhile.

Michael Giltz said...

Do tell: where should one start with Johnny Adams?

Sal Nunziato said...

@Michael Giltz
My favorite Johnny album is The Real Me: Johnny Sings Doc Pomus.
There is a Charly compilation called "The Tan Nightingale" that has a bunch a great early singles.
"Heart & Soul," "The Verdict" and "Walking On A Tightrope" all good.

Michael Giltz said...


Michael Giltz said...

He seems to have about SIX Christmas albums!