Buckwheat Zydeco – On Track (1992)

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NICK DERISO: Buckwheat Zydeco should, more correctly, be called Buckwheat Zydeco/Soul/Pop/Dance/R&B/Rock/ Funk/And Some Gospel. “On Track” is perhaps the best example of Stanley Dural’s far-flung interests.

He arrived, of course, with the credentials: A gravelly patois style, a band called Il Sont Partis (“they are crazy”) and experience in the greatest zydeco band of all time, as keyboardist with the legendary creole roots music pioneer Clifton Chenier.

That wasn’t, we’d see later, enough. Dural never lost his early interest in dance music and all of the mainstream attention that brings. (Remember, he led a funk group called Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers in the 1970s, before Chenier called.) “On Track” positioned Dural for a wider, pop audience and remains his most accessible record.

This less-complex roux was, really, something that Dural had been stirring on for years: It tastes like zydeco but with a lighter emphasis on the tradition. Scarely three tracks here rely on the accordian and rubboard sound that so often work as underpinnings for south Louisiana songwriting — both creole (black French-speaking people) and cajun (descendents of immigrant travelers from Acadia in Nova Scotia).

In fact, one of this CD’s better songs, “Funky Filly,” finds Dural with a Hammond B-3 under his fingers again, and nary a squeezebox in the studio.

It’s a record that might sound like a middle-of-the-road cross-pollenation project for anyone who has delved deeply into the larger context of this music. But for the uninitiated, even 15 years later, “On Track” remains a fine starting point.

Purchase: Buckwheat Zydeco – On Track (1992)

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