The title of C.J. Chenier’s new zydeco recording, Can’t Sit Down sums up my body’s response to this rousing music. The first time I listened to the CD, I popped it into my portable player while riding the bus. While I didn’t get up and dance the boogie woogie, my feet were tapping so hard that other bus riders turned around to see who was causing the commotion. They responded to my large grin with gawks and puzzled looks. So I’d like to thank the son of the legendary Clifton Chenier for waking my body up after a long and exhausting day.
If you seek traditional zydeco in its purist acoustic form, you won’t find that here. C.J. blends rhythm and blues (listen to Timothy Betts electric guitar solos on most tracks) with zydeco accordion and rhythms. The oddest instrument that appears on the recording is an African kalimba which opens the Tom Waits’ classic Clap Hands and the most familiar instruments to zydeco fans are the accordion and the washboard. Old world music clashes with modern sensibilities and pretty much everyone is rocking on this disc. Standout tracks include chestnut Please Don’t Go, the exotic version of Clap Hands and Curtis Mayfield’s We Gotta Have Peace which closes the recording.
You’ll also find covers of John Lee Hooker, Boozoo Chavis/Eddie Shuler and Clifton Chenier with the remainder of the recording featuring originals penned by C.J. All the songs flow into each other and alert bodies that there’s a party going on somewhere. If you’re feeling down in the dumps, you’ll want to give this CD a whirl in your player. And who knows, you might catch yourself hitting replay.
http://www.worldvillagemusic.com and http://www.myspace.com/cjchenier