REVIEW: Swamp Pop Sweethearts

One of the reasons I enjoy reviewing music is that it gives me the opportunity to shine a spotlight on artists – and even entire genres – that might otherwise be overlooked by many listeners. With that in mind, I’ve often featured reviews of new albums from the deep South, especially those from South Louisiana.

It’s an area that has always had a rich musical heritage, with roots in a variety of genres that include jazz, R&B, classic rock, and Cajun. Sometimes in bayou country those influences come together in special ways, and result in what’s often called Swamp Rock or Swamp Pop.

Helping keep the music alive is one of the region’s best recording companies, Jin Records, and their latest is pure fun in the form of a CD. It’s called Swamp Pop Sweethearts, and it’s a collection of 18 bouncing tunes from bayou country — and they’re all about the ladies. Some of them are the local legends taking on classics – for example, the Deuce Of Hearts doing “Good Golly Miss Molly” – while others are area favorites, and reflect their origin in the name. How could anybody not love “Alligator Annie” as performed by the Boogie Kings?

There are a few that just might ring a bell for their similarities to certain other songs. For example, “Lubby Lou” by Al Chase and the Midnighters reminded me of the classic oldies song “Linda Lu,” but hey — looking for coincidences in music is sometimes part of the fun.

My favorite here was probably another with a great name, “Jalapeno Lena” by Rockin’ Sidney, which folds in a little more of the Cajun/Zydeco flavor than most of the others. And even though he’s no Little Richard, Don Rich does a fine job with “Lucille.”  Finally, a special mention for “Betty and Dupree,” which is an OK song, but it’s performed by Shelton Dunaway and the Cupcakes — how could you resist a singing group with that name?

And speaking of names — the founder of Jin Records named the company after his own sweetheart.


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