JUST WHAT distinguishes the Buckwheat Zydeco Ils Sont Partis Band from its Louisiana brethren is obvious on "Hot Tamale Baby," the first cut off the band's CD anthology "Buckwheat's Zydeco Party."
In a word, it's soul music. The only tune on the CD previously unreleased, "Hot Tamale Baby" is a breathless, horn-riffing soul shout composed by the late Zydeco king Clifton Chenier. But despite its authorship and rhythmic rub-board clangor, the performance seems inspired as much by James Brown's inexhaustible energy as anything indigenous to Louisiana swamp music. Accordionist Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural Jr. slows down the pace occasionally as the remaining 16 performances on the CD unwind, but the soul influence is evident everywhere, just as plain as the surging horns and heavy back beat that punctuate such Otis Redding-like ballads as "Turning Point."
Ironically, the best cuts on the album aren't the r&b remakes of "Ya Ya" and "Walkin' to New Orleans." While neither is slavishly imitative, they're simply not strong enough to make you forget the original versions for a second. But Dural's own songs and instrumentals are certainly entertaining and eminently danceable, powered by a pumping accordion and the band's brassy fire. Sometimes the group's polish and versatility even compensate for some of the bluesy backwoods charm it lacks.
Opening for Buckwheat this weekend is Goin' Goin' Gone, a local rock quartet. The band's self-titled six-tune EP reveals a lean, punchy sound, built around rockabilly, r&b and country licks. Perhaps best of all, the EP is bolstered by such catchy original tunes as "I'm Shakin' " and "Warm Beer, Cold Women and a Broken Heart."
BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO ILS SONT PARTIS BAND -- "Buckwheat's Zydeco Party" (Rounder CD 11528).
GOIN' GOIN' GONE -- "Goin' Goin' Gone" (Run Wild RW 200). Both appearing Friday at the Roxy. Goin' Goin' Gone also appears with the Radiators Monday and Tuesday at the Bayou.