FILE UNDER...UNEARTHED GEMS
Louis Armstrong and His Friends
Let’s get one thing straight: The late Louis Armstrong was cooler than the Strokes, the Hives, the White Stripes, and any other hipsters-of-the-moment put together (just cock an ear to his recordings with his early groups, the Hot Five and the Hot Seven, for proof). Now comes the reissue of one of Satch’s last albums, 1970’s Louis Armstrong and His Friends (Bluebird/RCA). Armstrong, who died in 1971, was too ill at the time to play trumpet, but he sings his tail off on delightfully left-field covers in some surprising genres, including protest rock (John and Yoko’s “Give Peace a Chance”), folk (Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talkin'”), and, perhaps most unlikely, avant-garde space-jazz–saxophonist Pharoah Sanders’ Coltrane-esque hymn “The Creator Has a Master Plan (Peace).” On one of the two alternate takes of that great tune, Armstrong adds some new lyrics, revealing that the creator’s blueprint for human happiness involves “cats swingin’ all over the land.” Sounds like a swell plan to us.