Monday, September 26, 2011

Hugh Laurie's New Orleans blues album: Not bad for a pale British guy

Hugh Laurie returns as the cranky, flawed, brilliant doctor in "House" on Monday (Oct. 3), but he had a pretty exciting premiere in September with the release of his debut album "Let Them Talk," a New Orleans blues compilation that's worth a listen or even purchase. (Warner Bros. Records, $18.98 or $11.99 digital).
The Englishman, who plays a gimpy, atheist American doctor on the long-running Fox drama, channels his inner N'Awlins blues man in this surprisingly lush assortment of tunes. He's aided by some top musicians and guest vocals by Dr. John on "After You've Gone" and Irma Thomas and Sir Tom Jones on "Baby Please Make a Change" and "John Henry."
Best for me in this 15-tune CD are "St. James Infirmary," "You Don't Know My Mind," "Buddy Bolden's Blues" and "Winin' Boy Blues," but the rest are catchy, too.
Laurie, who occasionally plays the piano on "House" for short stretches, does some nice keyboard work here, and his vocals range from a bit tinny/hard to appropriately well-worn (with some spoken dialogue even in "Buddy Bolden's Blues").
In a release, the talented Brit notes that he was not born in Alabama in the 1890s, has never eaten grits, cropped a share or ridden a boxcar... "Let this record show that I am a white, middle-class Englishman, openly trespassing on the music and myth of the American South."
But he's an Englishman with the most awesome marketing power in history behind him -- weekly American primetime television.

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