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".... lot's of times you had that piano triplet thing going on in the foreground.",
This review is from: Louisiana Saturday Night (Audio CD)
Following the success of the original "Another Saturday Night", first on Oval in vinyl, then, with extra tracks, on Ace, this album contains the results of a further trawl through the vaults of Jin and all those other great little labels from Southern Louisiana. It's another varied selection but perhaps with slightly greater emphasis on swamp pop this time. Arguably it has more biggies of the genre than its precursor, with Cookie & the Cupcakes, "Mathilda", Buck Rogers' "Crazy Baby", Bobby Charles` "Big Boys Cry" and Clint West's "Big Blue Diamonds" all included.
Cookie was the stage name of Huey Thierry, from Jennings, Louisiana. He was a coloured musician who started his band, originally known as the Boogie Ramblers, in 1953. The band, which was based in Lake Charles, later changed their name to the Cupcakes. They only get one number on this set but it's their all-time classic, the pounding "Mathilda" recorded in `58 on Judd. It was a big regional hit and nudged into the lower end of the national charts. It has the usual Cupcakes' mix of hammered piano, emphatic boogie bass line and strong vocal. But Cookie doesn't get all the glory here. The track that immediately follows is a raucous version of "My Jolie Blonde" the cajun national anthem, from Rod Bernard and Clifton Chenier with Chenier's band backing. The pianist sounds as if he's the guy from the Cupcakes on the skive but they all sound as if they've had some lubrication beforehand!
Bobby Charles is one of the big names of the swamp genre. He was writing and performing what we now call swamp pop in New Orleans before most people were aware of what was going on. The arrangement for Little Richard's "Send me some loving" which I had previously thought was influential on swamp pop was actually copied from Bobby Charles "Your Picture" recorded months before. Very little of his early material was made available until very recently so we're lucky to have this typical self-penned number with his own crunching piano well to the fore and horns riffing behind.
Buck Rogers' "Crazy Baby" is one of the more obscure swamp numbers but it has all the right components - jangly guitars make pleasing addition to the riffing horns and organ while Buck's mournful voice rides this raft of sound beautifully. Doug Sahm evidently liked this number since he recorded it more than once.
Both Clint West and Tommy McClain from "Another Saturday Night" reappear, West with "Big Blue Diamonds", a song originally written as a country song in 1950. However there's a version by R&B singer Little Willie John from 1962 plus a more country cut from Texan singer Gene Summers in 1963. Clint could easily have heard either or both of these versions. His cut competes strongly with the usual backdrop of rich horn section. Tommy's song is another one from the portfolio of Don Gibson, "A legend in my time" which if anything is even better than his "Sweet Dreams". Another reappearance from the first album is Margo White who sings beautifully on the ballad, "You had your chance".
A new name to most people is the late Van Broussard. New to us perhaps but still a legend in South Louisiana. "Feed the Flame", written by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham number, is one of his best known numbers and is given an initially restrained, but building, backing with organ leading to singers leading to horns. Van doesn't over-emote and the performance is more akin to soul than swamp. His other number "I'm not a fool anymore" also evokes soul comparisons - Bobby Bland is a name that comes to mind though the writer of this number is down as Rufus Thibodeaux - is he the famous cajun fiddler?
Johnnie Allen gets a couple of tracks, the first being an upbeat version of Fats Domino's "I cried" and the second being "Rubber Dolly" about which I have rather mixed feelings.
There are several tracks which one could view as one-off greats which break all the category rules but just work in their own right: Phil Bo's "She wears my ring", Cleveland Crochet's "Sugar Bee" and Rockin' Sidney's "You ain't nothing but fine". All great tracks, the last one being something of a minor hit when covered by the Fabulous Thunderbirds. Just call this lot Louisiana rock'n/roll I guess. Sid was often termed a zydeco artist but zydeco has tended to be a catchall category.
The two Rusty & Doug Kershaw tracks I could have done without. Nothing against these revered gentlemen but I think they've been overexposed already.
Other tracks of interest include:
- The semi-legendary Frankie Ford's ode to the demon drink, "Whiskey Heaven" - well in the New Orleans tradition
- Warren Storm's "Seven Letters" a cover of an obscure - well I didn't know it - number by Ben E King cut after his main period of fame
- "Can't stand to see you go", a Jimmy Reed number performed very capably by Rockin' Dave Allen
Overall, another good selection which maintains the standard set by Charlie Gillett's original selection for "Another Saturday Night". No cajun this time but more swamp pop. I don't regularly go to cajun bars in places like Eunice, Sawtell or Opelousas - what romantic names! - so I've no idea what the band would play but this lot doesn't sound too bad.