Review: Clifton Chenier

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Clifton Chenier
“The Best of Clifton Chenier: The King of Zydeco & Louisiana Blues”
(Arhoolie)

Clifton Chenier is singularly responsible for blending the swamp sounds of French Creole music with the popular R&B sound to conjure up the still popular zydeco. This music is wild and exuberant (“Je me Reveiller le Matin [I Woke up this Morning]”) or sincere and soulful (“I’m Coming Home”) on this bilingual disc. Long-time Chenier producer Chris Strachwitz selected the tracks on this excellent, bluesy compendium from Arhoolie releases and includes a previous unreleased alternate take of Chenier’s signature zydeco anthem “Zydeco Sont pas SalĂ© (Snap Beans Without Salt)”. Chenier left this world in 1987 and the final track here is a 15:30 minute 1978 radio interview with Chenier that allows us to hear Strachwitz gently pull from Chenier the story of fusing the traditional Louisiana accordion music with some fiery R&B.