Do not understand why so very little has been written about Allen Toussaint‘s 1968 composition “Hands Christianderson,” an instrumental B-side released 47 years ago this very month:
Allen Toussaint (1968)
With a title as quirky as the composition itself, this unusual and complex production appeared on the second of three Toussaint singles released by Bell in 1968, featuring him on piano, and in a few cases, vocals. I wonder if he designed ‘Hands’ to play pop counterpoint to the lush but more straight ahead instrumental hit song of the same year, ‘Love Is Blue,’ by Paul Mauriat. It has the same kind of over the top, multi-instrument arrangement, including strings, but with quite a rhythmic twist – kind of like ‘Hand Jive‘ meets Riverdance. If anyone ever asks you if a song can be poly-rhythmic and syncopated and NOT be funky, play this!
As far as I can tell, that would be Zig and George of The Meters pumping the kick drum pedal and plucking the bass strings respectively; and you can probably see why the temperamental and highly funkifried Mr. Modeliste chafed at being put to rather mechanical tasks such as this and eventually stopped playing on many of Toussaint’s productions.
Maybe Allen was hoping this might be picked up as another TV theme song (as had his earlier “Whipped Cream” [composed by Naomi Neville], when covered by Herb Alpert), or for a movie soundtrack. I don’t know, but it seems he enjoyed and saw commercial potential in such pop instrumentals, as he had been doing them since the late 1950s, though not on this scale. ‘Hands’ was cleverly done, maybe too much so, as it quickly patty-caked off into the sunset; taking with it the other side of the 45, ‘I’ve Got That Feelin’ Now,’ which went in another musical direction entirely, call it soul easy-listening.
You can find “Hands Christianderson” on a 2007 CD anthology entitled What Is Success: The Bell & Scepter Recordings — essentially, a reissue of Toussaint’s acclaimed 1970 LP From a Whisper to a Scream, (originally released as Toussaint) plus the A and B sides of three Bell singles from 1968-69.
Hans Christian Andersen
Poet, playwright, novelist & fairy tailor