Tomorrow Recordings TMR 70001-2
review by Art Menius
Buckwheat Zydeco (aka Stanley Dural), although only in his early 50s, has reigned as the grand figure of zydeco – the infectious Louisiana gumbo of blues and Cajun – since the passing of his mentor Clifton Chenier. He’s lost none of his enthusiasm and power. Trouble, however, remains an apt name for this record. Buckwheat Zydeco had become the first zydeco act on major label in 1987. A decade later, on the other hand, Atlantic’s Mesa imprint essentially buried Trouble on release. Buckwheat and manager Ted Fox therefore created Tomorrow Recordings in order to rerelease the project in time for the band’s 20th anniversary tour in 1999.
Good thing, too, for Trouble is a delightful album. Buckwheat Zydeco has earned a reputation as the ultimate party band. The rollicking neo-zydeco leadoff track, “Put It In the Pocket,” immediately emphasizes that point with five minutes of non-stop dance hall energy. The real strength of Dural’s music and this album derives from variety unusual for even the best artists identified so closely with a specific genre. The title track, for example, employs R&B style vocals and horns, Dural’s Cajun-inspired accordion, and rolling rhythms that connect directly to the listener’s midsection. “Hard Charging” and “Allons A Boucherie” demonstrate his mastery of early zydeco and its roots. “Do You Remember the Time?” ventures into swamp pop territory emphasizing the interplay between horn section and accordion. A completely original reinterpretation of Robert Johnson’s “Crossroads” demonstrates the links between the blues and Louisiana French Creole music, as well as his own debt to the Stax/Volt sound.
Other than that, Dural composed or co-wrote all ten tracks. Few writers can handle this kind of stylistic diversity with equal aplomb. Dural triumphs on this set, however, not just as the composer, but as musician, singer, and bandleader as well. Trouble is Mardi Gras in a jewel case.