Putumayo World Music label has put out a number of compilation albums based on various world musics--the series includes albums from Cuba, Brazil, Africa and the Caribbean. On the home front there are several roots albums--this collection comes from original recordings on labels like Rounder, Arhoolie, Blacktop and Excello. It's aptly titled; the tunes run the gamut from funky R&B to Zydeco to soul--the musical mixture that grew around the New Orleans recording scenes.
On the soul front you get Carol Fran and Clarence Holliman with "Door Poppin'," Johnny Adams with the wry lament "It Ain't The Same Thing" (I don't need no treadmill, I'll take a walk around the block"), The Neville Brothers "Voo Doo" and a tasty Snooks Eaglin rendition of "Nine Pound Steel".
Zydeco is covered by the bluesy originator Clifton Chenier "Ti Na Na," with the bluesy inheritor Rocking Dopise Jr's "I'm Coming Home" and Lynn Augusts "Lead Me On." There are a couple of piano instrumentals; Eddie Bo's "Piano Roll" and the sad genius James Booker (he tended to go into paranoid rants about the CIA between his numbers which mixed funk and Beethoven) doing "African Gumbo". Whiskey-and-cigarette balladeer Percy Mayfield contributes "Louisiana" and the nice easy solid swing captures the overall flavor of this set nicely.
The booklet includes a full page on each artist, as well as a recipe for a meatless gumbo. There's nothing new here, but its a tasty little sampler of the many flavors of southern sounds.
Like other albums in the labels World Music series, this is a sampler compiled from tracks previously released on other labels, such as Arhoolie, Rounder and Shanachie. And like other albums, its a well put together survey of the genre, putting most of the top players in a nicely packaged set. Each artist gets a full booklet page, and the note by chronicler Michael Tisserand do a good job of setting up both the artist and his selection.
The best known names include founding father Clifton Chennier (his "Calinda" is a bluesy shuffle based on the hit "Fannie Mae" and features West Coast blues revivalists Elvin Bishop on guitar and Steve Miller on piano), the the late Wolfman of zydeco Beau Jocque ("What You Gonna Do"), Boozoo Chavis with the cautionary "Lula Lula Don't You Go To Bingo," festival favorite Queen Ida, with a Fats Domino tune, "My Girl Josephine," and Buckwheat Zydeco "I'm On The Wonder."
Lesser knowns include another rare female performer Rosie Ledet ("You're No Good For Me"), The Creole Zydeco Farmers ("Creole Farmers Stomp"), Joe KK and Zydeco Force with a voodoo/bluesy "Hoochie Coochie," Keith Frank, and Jude Taylor. The set ends with an infectious oddity, Chris Ardoin's "Stay In Or Stay Out--Pass The Dutchie" which blends zydeco and reggae into a double danceable groove. This is another nice little taste, and a good intro for those looking to check out a different groove.
This review is copyright © 2000 by Tony Glover, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.