Bluerunners – The Chateau Chuck (1994)

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NICK DERISO: On this, their second release, the Bluerunners were not so much tinkering with their tough southern-Louisiana sound, as they were utterly revamping it.

“Chateau” (on the terrific old Monkey Hill label) was to traditional Cajun what punk music was to rock — a whole new version, but born ragged and real. There was a hard, very guitar-oriented attack (the lead here is singer Mark Meaux) on every tired, roots-music assumption here.

While you still sense the occasional chanky-chank beat or the wisp of a squeeze box deep in the mix, it’s not nearly as overt as their self-titled debut. Where the first album was one-part Clifton Chenier and one-part Clash, “Chateau” burns a cleaner fuel: These guys were playing rock, and tearing it up.

Yet there is something very interesting about their Atchafalaya attitude, and that’s what made this band remarkable.

Certainly no other of the then so-called alternative groups was inserting an accordian into the mix — as with “Invitation” on this disc. And none could do it with the muscular authority of the Bluerunners, even if they had dared.

I missed the in-yer-face frattoir work that marked their torrid performances at Lafayette’s Grant Street Dancehall, but that had already been done.

A rare, rare find, this is: The Cajun record that sounds anything but old-fashioned.

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