Chris Kenner made his name in the 1960s with two big hits. “I Like it Like That” reached #2 on the pop charts, and “Land of 1000 Dances”, a reasonable hit for Kenner, became a classic for Cannibal and the Headhunters. Thanks in part to drinking and jail time, Kenner became little more than a footnote in music history, but his 1966 Land of 1000 Dances captures an intriguing moment. The record feels like a much older piece of pop, closer to 1950s rock ‘n’ roll and led by Kenner’s soul leanings (and his New Orleans origins). The cuts are, in fact, from a man who started his recording career in the late ‘50s. The songs on this album are singles a few years older, and the album was assembled after cover versions of Kenners two songs took off. The rest of the album doesn’t match up to those two hits because it rarely clicks, but it’s not bad. Allen Toussaint handled the arranging, but he’s not yet reached his potential. Kenner has a solid voice, and cuts like “Something You Got” (which sounds custom-made for Otis Redding) deserve to be remembered more than they are. Land of 1000 Dances isn’t a great album, but it’s an interesting artifact.
// Notes from the Road
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