Boozoo Chavis
Hey Do Right!
Antone's/Discovery 74707
Of all the bayou accordion slingers claiming to be the reigning "king of zydeco" since the passing of Clifton Chenier a decade ago, Boozoo Chavis has taken the title more seriously than his contemporaries -- with a purist attitude that's downright ornery.

After a hit single in the '50s, followed by a self-imposed 20-year exile from recording, Chavis has claimed since his comeback in the '70s that he represents the last resistance to the zydeco-pop trend ushered in by the likes of Buckwheat Zydeco and Chubby Carrier.

Chavis pretty much puts his money where his mouth is with Hey Do Right!, an album that adheres closely to traditional bayou rhythms and riffs. The only minor drawback to this hard-line approach is that the 14 tracks sound a little repetitive at times. Chavis nearly exhausts the high-speed zydeco two-step beat through the album's first five tracks, including the comical "You're Going to Look Like a Monkey." He finally offers a change of pace with the slower "Mother's Blues" and the one-minute instrumental quickie, "Jump the Boogie."

"Crying Waltz" starts with an impromptu dedication to all who seek to preserve traditional zydeco music. It's an odd spoken-word appeal in the midst of a compact disc full of music, but the snare-driven three-quarter beat of the song itself provides another breather from the otherwise frenetic pacing.

The closing track, "Zydeco Lady," parodies soul singer Johnnie Taylor's sultry disco-era hit, "Disco Lady," by drawing vague comparisons between the in-and-out motion of the accordion and the procreative act. It's inconsistent with Chavis' hard-line stance against tainting zydeco with mainstream pop, but it's entertaining nonetheless.

Beyond that, anyone looking for pop-flavored zydeco covers of tunes by Jimi Hendrix or the Who -- as others in the genre have done lately -- should look elsewhere. But if the high-speed, high-energy bayou sound with few deviations is the order of the day, Hey Do Right! is a good source.

-- John C. Bruening

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Boulder, CO, USA.