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JSP (JSP77115)

Joe Falcon, Dudley & James Fawvor, Segura Brothers, Blind Uncle Gaspard, Adam Trehan, McGhee & Courville, LeJuenne & Fruge, Sydney Landry, Connor & Grader, Anatole Credure, Amade Ardoin, Harrington, Landry & Steward, Percy Babineaux & Bixy Guidry, Guidry Brothers, Delin T. Guillory & Lewis LaFleur, Breax Freres, Millers Merrymakers, Floyd Shreve, Thibodeaux Boys, Louisiana Rounders, Dixie Ramblers, Jolly Boys Of Lafayette, Hackberry Ramblers, Riverside Ramblers, Alley Boys Of Abbeville.

These Cajun box sets are mighty popular, the previous two (JSP7726 and 7749) proved so successful that JSP have ventured into even deeper waters for this 4CD collection. As you'll see from the artist listing above, they've found some mighty rare material and I'd say that precious few of the items here have been reissued on either vinyl or CD until now.

The original 78s came from the collections of Ron Brown and Chris King who, thanks to his stirling work on Grammy Award winning projects like the Charley Patton box for Revenant and the Charlie Poole box on Columbia, has become the specialist in audio restoration for vintage record transfers. There's no doubt that JSP, King and sleeve-note writer Pat Harrison are doing for early Cajun music what Yazoo and County did for blues and old-time music decades ago.

Modern Cajun doesn't overly float my boat but this pre-war stuff really makes me sit up. The wheezing rollicking sound of the accordion, the easy lilt of the fiddle and the rambunctious attack of the rhythm guitar always hit the spot. There's no doubt this neglected music is one of the most enjoyable genres in America's history.

There are one hundred tracks on these four CDs for you to discover gem after gem after gem!  We get the best Cajun musicians who kept the tradition alive with expanding repertoires and experimentation in new sounds. People like accordion virtuosos Amede Ardoin, Joe Falcon, Dewey Segura, guitar player Cleoma Breaux and masters like Dennis McGhee, Leo Soileau, Sady Courville and Luderin Darbone, whose fiddle playing defined the idiom.

Thanks to the seriously good time feel of the piece, when you hear the Hackberry Ramblers wade off into their jazzed up version of "Just Because", you'll realise that they were producing music on a par with Gid Tanner's Skillet Lickers and Bob Wills Texas Playboys. For sheer swing though, you can't beat Luther Darbone's fiddle ebbing and flowing on the Jimmie Rodger's flavoured "She's One Of Those" by the Riverside Ramblers (the name the Hackberry Ramblers used when they recorded in English). Amede Ardoin appears solo; his accordion being the lone accompaniment on his singularly complex rhythmic songs such as "Waltz of The Oil Field" or "Les Blues De La Prison". Joe Falcon knew how to make ‘em dance and he and his wife, guitarist Cleoma certainly rattle the floorboards on songs like "Fe Fe Ponchaux" and "Rayne Special". Dennis McGhee's striking voice yelps out "Allon a Tassone" while Sady Courville scrapes out some beautifully archaic notions on the fiddle and Sydney Landry turns into a blue yodeller on his 1929 hit "Confession D'Amour".

Cajun fans, roll back the carpets and bring in the beer. You're gonna have a great time when you hear this wonderful box full of the real vintage sounds of Louisiana.

Review Date: November 2008

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