Like everything on Memphis Slim's album Goin' Back to Tennessee or Alvin Youngblood Hart's "Tallacatcha" (a Western swing performance worthy of Bob Wills), Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's 1975 Barclay album Down South in the Bayou Country completely transcends any and all attempts to confine this diverse artist within the artificial parameters of blues or any other preordained category. Consisting mostly of songs written by Hoyt Garrick, Jr., Charles Gressett, and David Craig with additional tunes by J. Loyd and Joe Stampley, this pretty parfait of country & western, Southern rock, cowboy hoedown, and electric Cajun soul music was recorded during February and March 1974 in Bogalusa, LA. Gatemouth, fresh from his tenure as Deputy Sheriff of San Juan County, NM, sounds particularly pleased to be active at the center of a project so completely infused with authentic Southern sensibilities. Perhaps the most satisfying track off of the original album is "Loup Garou." This hoodoo funk ritual with background vocals by Geraldine "Sister Gerry" Richard sounds as if it might have been influenced by Dr. John's "Loop Garoo," which had appeared on that artist's Atco album Remedies in 1970.
Opening slowly with the dark, swampy "Born on the Bayou," Bayou Country reveals an assured Creedence Clearwater Revival, a band that has found its voice between their first and second album. It's not just that "Born on the Bayou" announces that CCR has discovered its sound – it reveals the extent of John Fogerty's myth-making. With this song, he sketches out his persona; it makes him sound as if he crawled out of the backwoods of Louisiana instead of being a native San Franciscan…
Like everything on Memphis Slim's album Goin' Back to Tennessee or Alvin Youngblood Hart's "Tallacatcha" (a Western swing performance worthy of Bob Wills), Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown's 1975 Barclay album Down South in the Bayou Country completely transcends any and all attempts to confine this diverse artist within the artificial parameters of blues or any other preordained category….
Letting the good times roll again, with this second visit to the dynamic South Louisiana R&B scene there is no waver in the quality of music. We’ve added the work of another Louisiana record man, Sam Montel from Baton Rouge, to the vast stockpile of material in the vaults of J.D. Miller, Eddie Shuler, Floyd Soileau and Jake Graffagnino. Sam (originally Montalbano) got into the music business when his childhood friend Jimmy Clanton hit the charts. Sam became his road manager and the whole scene got into his blood. He decided to start his own record label when only 18 years old. His first release, Lester Robertson’s ‘My Girl Across Town’, is included here, as is a previously unissued outing from Robertson.
Tab Benoit's latest release on Telarc, Fever for the Bayou, continues in what has become Benoit's signature territory, a funky, ragged blend of Louisiana swamp blues and East Texas guitar, with hints of funk, soul, and country thrown in to give the gumbo just the right spice. If it sounds like a formula, well, Benoit's jagged guitar playing and increasingly soulful vocals make it clear that this is the music he loves, so it hardly matters. He touches a lot of bases here, including an eerie approximation of Elmore James' slide sound on a cover of James' "I Can't Hold Out" (which also features some cool tenor sax work from Jimmy Carpenter), then conjures Buddy Guy on Guy's "I Smell a Rat," fires up on the old Slim Harpo chestnut "Got Love if You Want It," and tears through a wonderfully swampy take on Levon Helm's "Blues So Bad" before ending things with an acoustic version of Clarence Williams' "My Bucket's Got a Hole in It" (made famous by another Williams, Hank Williams Sr.).
The multitalented Kenny Neal offers up a real treat with Bayou Blood, which features mostly original songs seasoned with a very few covers. Neal's guitar work is excellent and his smoky voice is a pleasure, but it's his harp playing that really shines, especially on "Howling at the Moon" and "Big City Ways." There's plenty of variety, from the fast-paced shuffle of "Right Train, Wrong Track" to the slower, attitudinal "Gonna Put You out of My Misery" to the smooth "Smoke Signals." "That Knife Don't Cut No More," "Do I Have to Go That Far?" and the title track are especially memorable, and a tasty cover of "You Ain't Foolin' Me" closes this album with style.