Boozoo Chavis


Elektra/Nonesuch, 1991

Boozoo was one of the founders of the style of music now called zydeco -- his 1954 single "Paper In My Shoe" is generally considered the first zydeco recording. However, he spent most of the next 30 years after that single out of the music business, and that long hiatus may help explain why his music sounds so fresh today. His basic zydeco style sounds neither artificially preserved nor jaded by time.

Boozoo's syncopated accordion provides the essential driving rhythm; in fact, three songs feature him unaccompanied, giving us an idea what the original zydeco dances must have sounded like. The other 10 cuts feature his band, the Magic Sounds, consisting of drums, bass, 2 guitars and rub-board and featuring two of his sons. The band sounds fine, but Boozoo is unquestionably the star. In the intro to "Forty One Days", we hear Boozoo admonishing the band to follow his lead: "If I'm wrong, you wrong too."

Producer Terry Adams (who wrote a tribute to Chavis -- "Boozoo, That's Who" -- and recorded it with his band NRBQ) did a nice job of putting together a flowing album, introduced by the instrumental "Boozoo's Theme Song" and "I'm Ready Me", which features the members of the band (and Boozoo's wife Leona) talking about getting ready to play. The rest of the album alternates between bluesy numbers like "Keep Your Dress Tail Down", upbeat dance songs like "Forty One Days" and the accordion solos. This is a fine set of pure, unadulterated zydeco, and with any luck its release on a major label will help Boozoo get the recognition he deserves.

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