Thursday, January 18, 2024

Album Review: Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band - Live at Tipitina's

Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band
Live at Tipitina's
**** out of *****

The most recent release from the fantastic Tipitina's Record Club is this unique capturing of the legendary Clifton Chenier who played zydeco, R&B, and Cajun music in a distinct fashion; keeping dance floors throughout the south good and sweaty. This vinyl release is from a warm night in 1980 as his Red Hot Louisiana Band display their dynamic range. 

One of the interesting things about this capturing is the band Chenier plays with. His core partners of his son CJ on alto sax and Cleveland his older brother on Frottoir, had been playing with Clifton for years. They are here with longtime collaborators Robert St Julien on drums and Jumpin' Joe Morris on bass but this show also has featured the killer Sonny Landreth on guitar along with Jerry Conrad on B3.  

This impressive collection of musicians dive right in with the upbeat Cajun blues of the strolling "Calinda". Clifton sings in French as he commands the stage, vamping and moving with ease while the sax work and organ pair beautifully; a reoccurring theme throughout this show. The accordion great gets his full on zydeco pumping for  "Louisiana Two Step" before the blues pour out on the cooking "Everybody Calls Me Crazy" which finds emotive singing from Clifton. 

The bands first true cover pops up next with their take on Ray Charles' classic "What I'd Say" and they do not disappoint. The revved up take uses energetic singing, a smoking tempo, and hip shaking goodness all around as the full band hit their stride. 

Side two starts with Clifton's take on the Coasters "I'm A Hog For You Baby" as the Cajun blues gets some zydeco touches before "Party Down (At The Blue Angel Club)" once again goes full bore with zydeco letting Clifton, CJ, and Cleveland dominate the stage. While Landreth had impressive moments, he steals the spotlight on the hardcore "Three O'Clock Blues" as his lead slide runs and dynamite guitar playing shines bright, while Conrad's B3 work is also majestic. 

The album wraps up with Clifton's version of "Feelin' Happy" which pays tribute lyrically to Blind Lemon Jefferson and Big Joe Turner, pulling the blues into the swamps as the group gets down in 50's R&B style to close the night.  

Almost as impressive as the music is the detailed linear notes from Todd Mouton, author of the book Way Down in Louisiana: Clifton Chenier, Cajun, Zydeco, And Swamp Pop Music. The notes give historic context to the performance, as well as dive into this musical world with vigor. 

Another excellent release from Tipitina's Record Club, Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Louisiana Band's Live at Tipitina's is recommended to those who are longtime fans of the artist and those who are brand new to his zydeco sounds as well. 
Join the record club and peep some video below from "Louisiana Two Step" live from 1982:

No comments:

Post a Comment