REVIEW: Various Artists – Swamp Gold Country – Vol. 2

Louisiana has always had a huge presence in country music, with a rich history that includes everyone from Faron Young and Floyd Cramer to modern stars such as Tim McGraw. Through the years, performers have starred in every venue from regional dance halls to radio and TV, where the Louisiana Hayride trailed only the Grand Ole Opry in influence.

A large part of that musical history comes from South Louisiana, and a new collection from Jin Records does a good job of providing a wide spectrum of the area’s music from several eras. Swamp Gold Country – Volume 2, which follows 2006’s Volume 1, furnishes more of the same — an outstanding mix of the best bayou-tinged country music around.

Not surprisingly, some of the same singers and pickers show up again, including talented vocalists Don Rich and Johnny Webb, along with currently popular supergroup Moe-D. In fact, Moe-D leads off the album with one of my favorites, an irreverent tune called “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More.”

The group’s Cajun-flavored music is typical of the music of the area, and there are several songs by some of the artists here that have that unmistakable bayou sound. A good example is Belton Richard’s “I Can’t Stop Loving You,” which is sung partially in French and certainly gives us something different than Ray Charles’ classic version or even the original by Don Gibson.

But although the Cajun sound is inevitably embedded in most of the music, these are still just good old honky-tonk tunes, Southern style. In fact, it’s a good bet that if you’d visited some clubs in the area through the years, you’d have heard a lot of the same songs — either from live bands or on the jukebox. Every decade is represented, with Johnny Webb’s “Blue Yesterday” from 1959 the earliest.

There are a lot of good listens here, including Big John Trimble’s “Gear Jammers Helper,” but the one that tickled me the most was turned in by songbird Debbie Folse. In a delightful bit of linkage with the earlier Swamp Gold Country album, she sings “Her Side Of Offshore Blues,” a response to one of the best from that earlier album, Tommy Warren’s “Offshore Blues.” It doesn’t get much better than that.

01- It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More (Moe-D) (4:50)
02- To Satisfy My Man (Peggy Scott) (2:51)
03- May You Never Be Alone (Norman Wade) (2:51)
04- Old Fool In the Mirror (Moe-D) (4:28)
05- I Can’t Stop Loving You (Belton Richard) (3:41)
06- Blue Yesterday (Johnny Webb) (2:44)
07- Julie’s 16th Birthday (John Bult) (3:55)
08- You’re So Easy to Love (Jimmy C. Newman) (2:13)
09- Cheatin’s A Sin (Dunice Theriot) (2:44)
10- Empty Glass (Richard LeBouef) (3:55)
11- I’m Leaving You (Don Rich) (2:55)
12- Her Side of Offshore Blues (Debbie Folse) (3:00)
13- Shackles and Chains (Norman Wade) (2:54)
14- How Long Will This Hurtin’ Last (Moe-D) (3:22)
15- The More I Drink (Don Rich) (3:07)
16- Here I Go Again (Johnny Webb) (2:42)
17- Come On Bottle Do Your Thing (George Freeman) (2:28)
18- I Wonder Where You Are Tonight (Johnnie Allan) (2:36)
19- I May Be Wrong But You Look Right (Norman Wade) (2:21)
20- Gear Jammers Helper (Big John Trimble) (3:27)

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