Various Artists

Music from the Zydeco Kingdom

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Author Michael Tisserand compiled this zydeco anthology as a companion disc to his book about the music, The Kingdom of Zydeco. Zydeco is a music that can easily become too homogenous over the course of single-artist albums, so there's always room for a compilation that ensures some diversity to the listening experience. This isn't exactly a one-disc history of zydeco: the chronological balance is tilted way toward the 1990s, with only three pre-1970 tracks (including Amede Ardoin's "Two Step de Eunice (Eunice Two Step)," done in a 1929 session which could qualify as the first batch of zydeco recordings). It's more a cross-section of major and minor zydeco performers and styles that complements more sweeping overviews, such as others on the Rhino, Rounder, and Arhoolie labels. Clifton Chenier, Queen Ida, Boozoo Chavis, Buckwheat Zydeco, and Rockin' Dopsie are all represented. So are newbloods such as John Delafose, and relative unknowns like Rosie Ledet (whose saucy "I'm Gonna Take Care of Your Dog" is a refreshing diversion for its womanly perspective) and Little Latour's Sulphur Playboys (whose 1968 "C Key Blues" is a little like John Lee Hooker doing zydeco). Two cuts, Delafose's "Tu M'as Fait Brailler (You Made Me Cry)" (from a 1992 BBC session) and Beau Jocque's "Give Him Cornbread," were previously unreleased. When all is said and done, it might still be a reflection of how zydeco performers can sound more similar to each other than different from one another. But it is a decent mix that includes both tradition-based approaches and more modern, soul- and rock-influenced ones.

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