Clifton Chenier

Louisiana Blues and Zydeco (Arhoolie)

Jul 20, 2005 at 4:00 am
Forty years ago, when Clifton Chenier first made the recordings contained on this CD, zydeco was a regional style little known outside its spawning grounds in Louisiana and on the Texas Gulf Coast. Chenier had already recorded sporadically for R&B labels like Elko, Specialty and Chess back in the '50s and had steady work playing live, but for him, this record represented a second -- and perhaps last -- chance at a real recording career. It's especially fascinating to hear these early sides reissued, remastered and, for the very first time, in stereo. With a mix of traditional songs set to driving two-step rhythms, jumping blues and rock numbers, and waltzes, it's both representative of Chenier's live repertoire at the time and a template for all those who followed him. More important, the energy, enthusiasm and joie de vivre of Chenier and his backup band are evident throughout, transcending any quibbles with the audio. Add in improved sound and bonus tracks, and this reissue offers both a welcome new perspective for long-time fans and a useful entry point for the novice.