October 26, 1987 12:00 PM

Buckwheat Zydeco

Zydeco is the music that is indigenous to the French-speaking Creoles of Louisiana. It is often played in a two-step tempo, and zydeco bands usually consist of an accordion—the focal instrument—a “rub board” (really just a sheet of corrugated metal) and drums. The term zydeco, very loosely translated from the French, comes from the phrase les haricots, “beans.” The recent craze in Cajun food and the appearance of two zydeco-flavored tunes on Paul Simon’s Graceland record are two factors that have helped propel the music out of the bayou and into the mainstream. Stanley Dural Jr., otherwise known as Buckwheat Zydeco, and his band, Ils Sont Partis (translation: “They’re off!”), are together probably the most popular modern zydeco outfit today, and one listen to this album shows why. The record bursts out of the starting gate with a six-minute-plus romp from the sound track of The Big Easy, Ma ‘Tit Fille (“my little girl” in Cajun patois). Swinging from the galloping beat of basic zydeco to a more hard-driving rock tempo, Buckwheat does faithful yet interpretive versions of the Blasters tune Marie Marie and the title track, a Dylan song. On Time Is Tight, the old Booker T. and the MGs song, he beautifully fuses the deeply rooted sounds of classic rock and zydeco. The thumping bass line should get almost anyone on his feet, and Buckwheat’s joyful accordion warms the soul like the hot Louisiana sun warms the body. One number, Hot Tamale Baby, written by the undisputed king of the genre, Clifton Chenier, is the kind of quick two-step shuffle heard in the dance halls in Dural’s hometown, Lafayette, La. Most of the album, however, is souped-up zydeco, the musical equivalent of piping hot jambalaya. (Island)

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