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Iry LeJeune: The Definitive Collection (Ace CDCHD 428)


Some names get bandied about... Robert Johnson, Iry LeJeune...you know - well, possibly, you don’t. But, just maybe you should. Because LeJeune has that sort of status - albeit only w/in cajun music itself. Admittedly, that is an acquired taste, and yet one that is not so difficult to pick up. Because, his complete recordings (all here) - from 1948-1955 - range from the hectic - yet savagely controlled - lock-in rhythms of such as “I Went to the Dance” & “La Valse de Bayou Chene”, to mournful outings that should touch even the coldest (or most ironic?) of hearts...

But, of all things, perhaps, it is his knife-edge control of rhythm that most easily resonates for the naive listener. Just try “Donnes Moi Mon Chapeau” on for size - a fitting that’ll reduce most rockabilly to jelly - because there’s a pulsating intensity here that any real fan of living music can respond to... Or, if you’re looking for that Nathan Abshire touch - you know, yer actual accordian blues deal - give “Grande Bosco” or “It Happened to Me” a shot... But, then, if’n you do, it’ll surely be in the knowledge that there’s a hell of a lot else here on offer for the taking...

Relentlessly rocking antiphonal descending riffs, carnivale techo goes hyper-cajun acceleration (thrice!), bizarrely mis-beating hearts doing something that sounds backwards/sped-up...the possibilities are endless. Or...just try and imagine the last...slowed-down/reversed - sans any obviously backwards bits - and, then re-voiced as tragedy. Alternately, try some Cajun hollerer/accordianist, confusingly riding on the Velvet Underground’s sole full-strength acoustic session. [Hell, I’ve said something like that far too many times].

Because this one truly great - and varied - collection. Can’t say as it feels like an album to me, but - hell - it is the only one to get...and so, get it you should. The oldest two here, tracks 20 & 21, do seem to hark back to something earlier, to be sure...and yet there’s no genuine break - just the incorporation of the overt drive from fast to most - so, we can easily ride through the changes...

Cause rock it, you should. This is a damnably great set - and, even more rarely - the damnably great set by one who produced no other...

Listen - savour - and, enjoy...since this was one great artist.

Because, this is one for all of us...




John Henry Calvinist