Even if you’re into country music in a big way, it’s entirely possible that the music of Don Rich isn’t familiar to you, unless you’re a fan of the earlier Don Rich, who in the early 1970’s was the leader of the Buckaroos, the band that backed Buck Owens. But we’re here to talk about the Don Rich from Louisiana, who is a veteran performer specializing in the music known as swamp country or swamp pop.
Rich, who was born Donald Richard in Southern Louisiana, represents the fifth generation of a musical Cajun family. As he grew to adulthood, he continued the family tradition but expanded to a wider spectrum, creating a sound that’s often a fusion of Cajun, traditional country, and just plain old Southern blues. His strong baritone voice and impressive keyboarding give him the versatility to tackle just about anything.
You Need Love, on the Jin Records label, is his ninth album, and it’s a good mix of tunes that illustrate the flexibility of Rich and his six band-mates. The cuts vary all the way from those written by Rich himself, such as the ballad “Didn’t Want To Love You”, to the Stevie Ray Vaughan song, “Pride And Joy”. The group even gives us their version of “Soul Man”, and do it at least as well as those other blue-eyed bluesmen, the Blues Brothers.
It’s also worth noting that the album is dedicated to Louisiana musical legend Otis Scott, an idol of Rich’s, and Otis himself gave his stamp of approval to the undertaking. The group’s performance of his “You Need Love” is so special that it was chosen as the title song of the album, and another Scott tune, “Groovin’ Soul”, was also very well done.
For something a little different, try “Hey Maria”, a bouncy tune that combines a Latin beat with a Cajun squeeze-box — sounds like a crazy idea, but it works. Rich even tackles the Motown classic, “My Girl”, but I had a difficult time with that one.
Lots of good stuff on this album, and I think you’ll enjoy it. I did.
01- You Need Love
02- Didn’t Want To Love You
03- Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You
04- Yes I Will
05- Party Time 2006
06- Groovin’ Soul
07- Last Thing On My Mind
08- Hey Maria
09- Soul Man
10- After Loving You
11- Baby Help Me
12- Pride And Joy
13- My Girl