Southern Nights (Allen Toussaint album)

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Southern Nights
Studio album by
Allen Toussaint
ReleasedMay 1975
StudioSea-Saint Studio, New Orleans[1]
ProducerMarshall Sehorn, Allen Toussaint
Allen Toussaint chronology
Life, Love and Faith
Southern Nights
Singles from Southern Nights
  1. "Country John/When the Party's Over"
    Released: May 1975
  2. "Southern Nights/Out of the City"
    Released: May 1975

Southern Nights is a 1975 R&B concept album by Allen Toussaint.[2][3] Seminal to the development of New Orleans R&B,[4] Toussaint incorporated into the album elements of funk and soul music, while, according to AllMusic, suggesting neo-psychedelia.[2] Two singles were released in support of the album, "Country John" backed with "When the Party's Over" and "Southern Nights"—Toussaint's signature song—backed with "Out of the City". Although neither single charted for Toussaint, "Southern Nights" as later covered by Glen Campbell in 1977 reached number one in Billboard's country, pop and adult contemporary charts.[5] Released in May 1975 by Reprise Records, the album has been subsequently reissued multiple times on both LP and CD.[6]


Among the better known songs of the album, "Southern Nights" was Toussaint's tribute to evenings spent with his Creole family on a porch in the song-writer's native Louisiana.[5][7][8] The song that would become Toussaint's signature song was brought to the attention of Glen Campbell by Campbell-collaborator Jimmy Webb.[5][9][10] Campbell released it on an album he titled Southern Nights in February 1977, whereupon it spent four weeks at the top of the country, pop and adult contemporary charts.[5] Toussaint's version of the song was very different from the "cheerful catchiness and...bright, colorful feel" of Campbell's;[2][11] AllMusic comments in its album review on the "swirling, trippy arrangement that plays like a heat mirage" of Toussaint's version, while The Times-Picayune remarked in 2009 on its "strange psychedelic-swamp-water sound."[12] In 1994, Toussaint came out of a lengthy hiatus as a performer to record the song in duet with Chet Atkins for the compilation album Rhythm, Country and Blues.[6] Toussaint frequently performed the song in concert.

Bonnie Raitt also had success with her cover of "What Do You Want the Girl to Do",[3] retitled "What Do You Want the Boy to Do?" and released on 1975's Home Plate.[13]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[2]
Robert ChristgauB−[14]
The Village VoiceC+[15]

According to 2002's Louisiana Music, the album is regarded as "perhaps...[Toussaint's] signature record";[16] in 1994, Toussaint himself characterized the album as his best.[1] Although overall a critical success, it was not financially successful and was not universally well received.[17] At the time of its release, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice gave the album a tepid "C+", indicating that the first half was good, but not typical of Toussaint's genius.[15] He later revised this grade to a "B-" indicating "a competent or mildly interesting record that will usually feature at least three worthwhile cuts."[14] AllMusic indicates the album should be "part of any serious soul collection", but notes that a few average songs and repetitive instrumental fillers "prevents Southern Nights from being a full-fledged masterpiece".[2]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks composed by Allen Toussaint.

  1. "Last Train" – 3:01
  2. "Worldwide" – 2:42
  3. "Back in Baby's Arms" – 4:49
  4. "Country John" – 4:45
  5. "Basic Lady" – 2:58
  6. "Southern Nights" – 3:36
  7. "You Will Not Lose" – 3:42
  8. "What Do You Want the Girl to Do?" – 3:40
  9. "When the Party's Over" – 2:38
  10. "Cruel Way to Go Down" – 3:52




Release history[edit]

Region Date Label Format Catalog
United States May 1975 Reprise Records stereo LP MS 2186
United Kingdom March 1985 Edsel Records stereo LP ED 155
United States April 1996 Reprise Records CD 7599 26596-2
United States 2000 Warner.Esp CD 7599265962
United States 2006 Water Records CD WATR 177
United States 2008 Reprise Records CD 75407


  1. ^ a b Sweeney, Philip (25 July 1994). "Aloof from the linear motion: Allen Toussaint is the man they say invented funk. Philip Sweeney met him in New Orleans". The Independent. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  2. ^ a b c d e Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Southern Nights". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  3. ^ a b Holland, Bill (24 September 2005). "Q&A Allen Toussaint". Billboard Magazine. 117 (39): 20. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  4. ^ Pareles, Jon (July 23, 1984). "Allen Toussaint plays solo piano at the public". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  5. ^ a b c d Hogan, Ed. "Southern Nights". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  6. ^ a b Strong, Martin Charles (2002). The Great Rock Discography (6 ed.). The National Academies. ISBN 1-84195-312-1.
  7. ^ Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number 1 Hits: The Inside Story Behind Every Number One Single on Billboard's Hot 100 from 1955 to the Present (5 ed.). Billboard Books. p. 461. ISBN 0-8230-7677-6.
  8. ^ Taylor, Paul (14 June 2007). "Allen Toussaint and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band @ Bridgewater Hall". Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  9. ^ Selvin, Joel (May 14, 2007). "Toussaint explores life outside Big Easy: Katrina forced him out of New Orleans but the R&B maestro's roots run deep". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  10. ^ Spera, Keith (February 27, 2009). "Hundreds fill Howlin' Wolf for Snooks Eaglin's final appearance". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  11. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Southern Nights (Glen Campbell)". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  12. ^ MacCash, Doug (March 20, 2009). "Michalopoulos sticks with a tried-and-true Jazz Fest poster formula". Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  13. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Home Plate". AllMusic. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  14. ^ a b Christgau, Robert. "Review: Southern Nights". Robert Christgau. Retrieved 10 November 2015.
  15. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (1975-04-07). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  16. ^ Koster, Rick (2002). Louisiana Music: a journey from R&B to zydeco, jazz to country, blues to gospel, Cajun music to swamp pop to carnival music and beyond. Da Capo Press. p. 78. ISBN 0-306-81003-4.
  17. ^ Buckley, Peter. The Rough Guide to Rock (3 ed.). Rough Guides. p. 1095. ISBN 1-84353-105-4.