In the history of popular and vernacular music it is usually hard to pinpoint the genesis of a new genre or style on one particular individual. But in the case of Louisiana's Afro-American Zydeco music we actually know who invented it, established it, perfected it, and made it world famous! His name was Clifton Chenier (1925 - 1987).
1. Je Me Reveiller Le Matin (I Woke Up This Morning)
2. I'm Coming Home (To See My Mother)
3. Ay, Ai, Ai
4. Brown Skin Woman (Who Can Your Good Man Be)
5. Hot Rod
6. It's Hard
7. Party Down (At The Blue Angel Club)
8. Why Did You Go Last Night
9. Ma Mama Ma Dit (My Mama Told Me)
10. Zydeco Cha Cha
11. Bon Ton Roulet
12. Johnny Can't Dance
13. I'm On The Wonder
14. Ain't No Need Of Crying
15. All Your Love
16. Zydeco Sont Pas Sale
17. Black Gal
18. Interview With Clifton Chenier, KPFA, 1978
“Just like, according to some blues specialists, the blues genre has gradually been simplified through the history of recorded music (the 12-bar blues form, being heard on record more often than other, less regular song structures, has been copied more often by artists of following generations, who then recorded it even more extensively, etc.), so Zydeco music has gradually come to be more one-dimensional than it was at the beginning. Want oral proof? Listen to The Best of Clifton Chenier, The King of Zydeco & Louisiana Blues , a 17-song sampling of the creator of Zydeco's output on Arhoolie Records (plus a 15-minute previously unreleased interview of Clifton Chenier conducted by Arhoolie founder and radio personality, Chris Strachwitz). You'll hear plenty of fast-paced dance fare, to be sure, but also beautiful waltzes, accordion-based honest-to-goodness blues, and even a Jimmy Reed-like take of "It's Hard," where Chenier totally foregoes accordion in favor of a harmonica. Zydeco is one of the most propulsive types of music in America, and Chenier was truly the king of this style.
Expect not to be able to stand still while listening to these tracks, which cover a period of 20 years, from 1964 to 1983. Even though Chenier won a Grammy with his Alligator album 'I'm Here!,' his best work was done for Arhoolie, time and again, so this sampler serves as a very good selection of the best of his latter-day career. Check out the three live cuts, but also the earliest track, a rough and loose "Why Did You Go Last Night," for examples of the sheer joy this music can bring. And remember, "laissez le bon temps rouler"”
-Tom Druckenmiller, Sing Out!