Buckwheat Zydeco

In 1997, Buckwheat Zydeco nailed one of his best recordings ever and for what? Maybe it was the disc’s ominously christened title, Trouble, that sealed its downward fate. Thanks to the inexplicable zero promotional efforts by Atlantic Records subsidiary Mesa, the disc was virtually invisible to the general public that year. But Buck has always been a man of many firsts, the first z-artist to sign with a major label (Island), to perform at an Olympic ceremony, to share the stage with Eric Clapton and U2, etc. What was once an empty glass was soon replenished as the Buck-stops-here team took matters into their own hands and founded the Buckwheat Zydeco-friendly Tomorrow Recordings. And now, with the first studio recording in eight years, the long wait has been rewarded. Buck has never sounded better, a brilliantly dexterous musician belting it out with a terrific set of pipes while exuding consummate showmanship.

From beginning to end, Buck throws it down and slams it sideways, delivering the ultimate nonstop party ride with one great original after another. There’s so many of ’em, damn it, it’s virtually impossible to pick the best cut but the rollicking “I’m Gonna Love You Anyway,” the old school-seasoned “It Must Be Magic,” the slinky “Rock, Boogie, Shout” and the title song all contend mightily. And the all-hit wonders continue to blast by. “You Lookin’ For Me” cruises ever so cooly; the Creole French sung “Old Times La La” challenges a sea of bustin’ hips and thrustin’ asses to raise the rents onthe dance floor. Helping the flame burn hotter and higher than ever are legendary guitarist Paul “Li’l Buck” Sinegal, six-string slinger Olivier Scoazec, inventive bassist Lee Allen Zeno, propulsive drummer Gerard St. Julien and trumpet screecher Curtis Watson.

Yet, just because the name is Buckwheat Zydeco doesn’t mean it’s solely zydeco. On the last three cuts, Buckwheat Zydeco becomes Organic Buckwheat by jumping on the Hammond B-3, the very instrument he played upon joining Clifton Chenier’s Louisiana Red Hots. Blues, jazz and R&B enthusiasts will likely have their tongues hanging to the floor, uttering stuff like the late, great Jimmy Smith has nuthin’ on this country boy. Now that’s a jackpot.