Down in the Crescent City where Desire meets the Mississippi, Ernie K. Doe smiles from the side of a pink palace packed to the gills with audio treasures both new and old; a trove called Euclid Records. Ask a clerk for an introduction to New Orleans’ music and he’ll more than likely reach for the second volume of The Cosimo Matassa Story. Cosimo is responsible for most of the Big Easy R&B you know and love. This stellar compilation features numbers from the likes of Aaron Neville, Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, Ernie K. Doe, Huey “Piano” Smith, Irma Thomas, Lee Dorsey, Professor Longhair, and more.
That being said, it’s tracks like Joe Barry’s recording of “I’m A Fool To Care” that deserve special attention. Born guitar-in-hand in Cut Off, Louisiana, Joseph Barrios, Jr., became a leading delegate of the Bayou’s “swamp pop” scene. After his first single bottomed out, Barry traveled with engineer Floyd Soileau to New Orleans to record at Matassa’s. Their superb version of “Fool” is typical Cosimo; a humid mélange of horn, guitar, and piano that coasts atop a Cadillac groove, with Barry’s sleepy Cajun tenor mixed way out in front. Both Fats Domino and Ray Charles went on to record this song, but the blue ribbon belongs to the country boy from Cut Off. words/ j steele