released in 1995 from RHINO RECORDS
This exciting, creative Louisiana band recently marked its 20th anniversary, and cruised into a third decade of playing eclectic Cajun dance music that looks ahead to the millennium while deeply revering the past. Now the acclaimed and accomplished group led by fiddle/vocalist/songwriter Michael Doucet has released its fifth Rhino album.
Produced and mixed by Doucet, L'AMOUR OU LA FOLIE! (Love or Folly) is a diverse assortment of his own originals along with Cajun and Creole classics, blues, South Louisiana swamp-pop, New Orleans jazz, and Afro-Caribbean material. Such far-ranging performances are unified by Michael Doucet's fiery fiddle style. Thoroughly grounded in authentic Cajun tradition, he also takes daring rhythmic chances yet always plays with swing, soul, and precision. Guitarist David Doucet demonstrates a similarly innovative approach in a unique style which blends Cajun music with old-time country flat-picking.
This potent yet seamless mixture has distinguished BeauSoleil since Michael Doucet formed the band back in 1975. Since then BeauSoleil has toured continually, worldwide, including two perfomances at Carnegie Hall; recorded more than a dozen albums and received six Grammy nominations; written and performed the soundtrack for the film Belizaire The Cajun, and graced the opening credits of the soundtrack for The Big Easy; made regular radio appearances on A Prairie Home Companion; and accompanied Mary-Chapin Carpenter on her Grammy-winning "Down At The Twist And Shout." In addition, Michael Doucet has been a featured guest on albums by Keith Richards, Mark Knopfler, and Thomas Dolby, among others. He also coproduced Le Hoogie Boogie - an album of Cajun music for children - along with his wife, Sharon Arms Doucet.
Such experience, as well as Doucet's extensive reseach on Cajun music, is all reflected on L'AMOUR OU LA FOLIE. The opening track, "Newz Reel," combines a zydeco/rhumba beat with a fiddle melody that Doucet describes as "a Cajun mantra"; the catchy tune that results is heard nightly in BeauSoleil's home base of Lafayette, Louisiana, on the local news station KATC-TV. "Les Blues de Crève de Faim" is a mournful Creole waltz that dates back to the Depression. The title track, a Doucet original, explores the mysterious dynamics of marriage - is it love or folly? - in an exuberant two-step with a ferocious groove and hot solos all around.
The sweetly sensual "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie" emphasizes the close ties between New Orleans jazz and the music of Cajun-Creole country, while "Eunice Two-Step" and "Les Blues de la Prison" demonstrate the undiminished legacy and immediate appeal of the great accordionist Amédée Ardoin. The soulful "Charivari," with its conjunto ballad flavor, is another Doucet original. "Boudreaux" features David Doucet on vocals in an adaptation of a Creole juré song. The uptempo "Valse a Pop" pays tribute to another South Louisiana legend, fiddler Dennis McGee. "Can't You See" comes from the South Louisiana swamp pop tradition of rock 'n' roll with a Cjun-zydeco tinge.
"Danse Caribe," with its double-time climax, shows why Louisiana is often regarded as the Caribbean's northern frontier. Cajun recording pioneers Joe and Cléoma Falcon are honored on "Valse J'Aime," while accordionist Lawrence Walder is paid tribute on the toe-tapping medley "Courir avec Walker" - and then L'AMOUR OU LA FOLIE ends on a pensive note with Doucet's own "Ma Vie S'est Arrêtée" ("My Life Stopped").
BeauSoleil's core members - a truly masterful ensemble - are joined on L'AMOUR OU LA FOLIE by special guests who are also masters in their respective fields. Guitarist Richard Thompson - who appears on both the irrepressible title track and "Charivari" - has championed British fold tradition in tandem with Michael Doucet's revival of Cajun roots; like Doucet, however, Thompson is also a brilliant passionate modernist. The two have collaborated before on Michael Doucet And Cajun Brew, BeauSoleil's Cajun Conja, and a Herbie Hancock special for the Showtime cable network. Augie Meyers, now a Texas Tornado and a founding father of conjunto-rock with the Sir Douglas Quintet, adds a vocal and some inspired ivory-tickling to the rollicking "Can't You See" - which also features an exciting solo by the veteran swamp pop saxophonist Harry Simoneaux.
Dobro ace Josh Graves lends a country flavor to the poignant "Valse J'Amime;" Graves association with BeauSoleil goes back to his appearances with Michael on the album Masters Of The Folk Violin and on David Doucet's solo album Quand J'ai Parti. Country ambiance is also provided by Murnel Babineaux's pedal steel on "Charivari" and the lilting "It's A Sin To Tell A Lie." L'AMOUR OU LA FOLIE also features cameos by pianist Dave Pellicciaro, mandolinist and BeauSoleil alumnus Tommy Comeaux, and accordionist/steel guitarist Bessyl Duhon, and original member of BeauSoleil who also worked with Michael in the '70s Cajun-rock band Coteau.
"Our 20th anniversary is really quite a milestone," Michael Doucet reflects. "I wanted to celebrate it in a special way with the best possible material and some of the friends that BeauSoleil has made over the years. I also wanted to acknowledge some of the great players who have inspired us. We recorded L'AMOUR OU LA FOLIE at a relaxed pace, right here at home, and it has a live in the studio feel - we enjoyed making it the way we enjoy playing a dance. Everyone played at the top of their form, and there's a lot of humor in it, too. I know musicians always say this, but I really think it's our best album yet." BeauSoleil's many fans are sure to agree.