Various Artists

The Rough Guide to Cajun Dance

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What is it about Louisianan dance music that keeps people listening? Is it the sheer danceability of it, regardless of the mood? Perhaps there's something in the omnipresent emotion that lets the musicians break the language barrier and put their feelings onto the listener. As one of many albums on the market in the current revival of popularity for Cajun music, the Rough Guide contribution to the current offerings is a welcome one. The major figures of the genre are present, as are a few relative unknowns with powerful abilities. The album opens up with the best contemporary Cajun has to offer, with a thumping dance from the Mamou Playboys. As it moves forward, it touches upon pieces from Beausoleil (surprisingly, the two Beausoleil pieces are the only appearances of a Doucet here) and the venerable Magnolia Sisters. Bruce Daigrepont provides a number worth hearing, as do the Balfa Brothers within a short span. D.L. Menard contributes a piece of his trademark country-inflected Cajun, and the Savoy Family makes an appearance (as with Doucet, a surprising single appearance from the stars of the genre). The compilers did a fine job of covering a range of works here, staying away from the most dated and scratchy recordings in favor of new recordings as available. The plan seems to have worked well, as the album shows off some fine stuff. Pick it up alongside other entries in the same field, such as Rounder's Cajun Music: The Essential Collection, and compare, then dig for the best on related albums.

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