Various Artists

Creole Bred: A Tribute to Creole & Zydeco

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A couple years after its compilation project matching rock and country singers with Cajun material and musicians (Evangeline Made), Vanguard Records applied the same concept to Creole and zydeco with Creole Bred. (In fact the same producer, Cajun music performer and scholar Ann Savoy, oversaw both records.) Although a few of these tracks are indeed performed by Creole/zydeco artists, for the most part they accompany artists from outside the genre on Creole/zydeco songs. The unlikely headliners include Cyndi Lauper, Taj Mahal, Tom Tom Club, David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Michelle Shocked; Mahal and Lauper, in fact, do two songs apiece. Like Evangeline Made, it's a respectful and respectable mating of the traditional with the modern, though it doesn't catch fire and won't be rated among the highlights of the careers of either the zydeco or non-zydeco musicians. The presence of Lauper in particular on this disc might sound alarm bells for purists, but actually, her high voice suits her tracks reasonably well, and she doesn't try to showboat on them. The mix of performers helps ensure more variety than you'll come across on many zydeco records, from stompers to Sweet Honey in the Rock's a cappella ballad "Mon Homme Est Pas 'Rive"; Tom Tom Club's "Only the Strong Survive" boasts the funkiest modern rhythm section on the disc, to no one's surprise.

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