Behind the Levee
The New Orleans group pay tribute to stories and legends of their native city on their sixth and latest studio album. Recorded before Hurricane Katrina devasted the area, the album has a wistfulness and nostalgia made more poignant by circumstance. Behind the Levee marks the second album the band has made since their welcome reformation after a near decade-long absence from recording.
The upbeat single "Papa Dukie & The Mud People" is based on a true story of a couple of busloads of music-playing hippies showing up in the town of Wallace, Louisiana. "Back in the day in our sleepy little town, out of nowhere a hippie band came to town," Tommy Malone sings, setting up the story, woven together with its catchy "na-na-na-na" hook.
"Social Aid and Pleasure Club" is a tribute to the African-American neighborhood associations which have been the engines of cultural and community strength in New Orleans life. Assisted by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Malone lets his guitar unwind (too briefly) on this track.
The album is produced by Keb' Mo', who brings his "smooth blues" approach to the Subdudes' soulful gumbo rock. Although a couple of songs could have used a little more roughness around the edges, Behind the Levee features some good, fun music.
And, as Malone points out that despite recent connotations, "behind the levee" is where kids went went to do everything fun—fishing, swimming, and hanging out. This album makes a perfect complement to just such activities.