CJ Chenier: Can’t Sit Down
Just like his legendary father Clifton, C.J. Chenier puts out music that makes you sweat. His latest, Can’t Sit Down,recorded in “one kick-butt session,” according to the liner notes, is high energy dance music that permeates the joints and muscles, causing involuntary twitches. The only relief is on the dance floor. Mixing rock, blues and soul into Zydeco, CJ has been carrying on Clifton’s tradition since he took over his father’s Red Hot Louisiana Band upon Clifton’s death in ’87.
This one is a mix of old and new, John Lee Hooker rubbing shoulders with Tom Waits with Boozoo Chavis and Curtis Mayfield in the mix as well. Chenier‘s growl is so similar to Waits’ gravely rumble that you’ll swear its Waits croaking on Chenier’s cover of Waits “Clap Hands” from his ’85 classic Rain Dogs.Chenier’s squeezebox pumps wheezy funk into Hooker’s “Dusty Road.” With help from guitarist Tim Betts’ rocking’ wa-wa backing him, Chenier transforms Mayfield’s soft-spoken anthem “We Gotta Have Peace” into a rocking proclamation. Chenier breathes new life into a hard rockin’ remake of Boozoo Chavis’ “Paper In My Shoe,” the first Zydceo hit record in 1954. Daddy Chenier is honored as well with two of his originals: the title cut, and a boiling hot version of “Hot Tamale Baby.”
CJ’s energy transfers well to recording, thanks to his one-take live technique. But it’s his enthusiasm and dedication to the music that makes it jump out of the speakers and into your heart and your feet. Timeless and addictive, it’s as advertised. When it cranks up, you can’t sit down.
By Grant Britt