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Coco Robicheaux - Hoodoo Party (REVIEW - Blues Access)

Orleans 3057672

Coco Robicheaux is a real hoodoo blues man. His music is raw and wild, and his lyrics talk about curses and mojos, crystals and ashes. He is also known around New Orleans for his knowledge of herbs and home cures. His new CD, Hoodoo Party, holds good times and bad times, lost love and hoodoo recovery. These ideas are put to music that is authentic Louisiana blues.

Coco grew up in rural Ascension Parish, and the outlook and feel of the swamps there informs his music. "Burn My Bones," the first song on Hoodoo Party, has the ominous feel of slow-moving bayous and creepy critters. The singer's delivery emphasizes the lyrics, describing a man who has worked the land all his life and whose dying wish is to be cremated, with his ashes spread over the water.

Coco's singing voice is an instrument of great power and subtlety. Its gravelly tone gives a complete authority, and the way he phrases his words gives him either a hip aura or a snarling menace. When Coco sings, you can believe every word that comes out of his mouth.

"Real Smooth Talker" has a sexy strut articulated by the great lead guitar of David Renton. And when songs like "Thrift Store Suit" and "Fair in Love" come out of your speakers, a listener can almost see the blinking neon signs, smell the barbecue smoke and taste the whiskey. Then cue up "Mean Old Lady" and get ready: This number combines intricate riffs with a martial beat. Most tunes that lament loving a bad woman and walking miles to find her are slow and sad, but this one is upbeat and funky despite the desperation of the words.

In addition to his original tunes, Coco covers several South Louisiana classics here. He does a version of Tabby Thomas' "Hoodoo Party" that updates the lowdown sound of the original without losing the mystical celebratory atmosphere of the lyrics. His version of Professor Longhair's "In the Wee Wee Hours" is tighter and more controlled than the original, though not by much. Coco sings the words as if he has been at the bars with the women Fess described many times over the years.

Coco ends the CD with "The Grass Looks Greener," approaching the Eddie Bo song as a slow, rueful ballad complete with gospel-like singers reaffirming his words and a saxophone solo by Tommy Alfortish that makes everything alright. It's a great ending to a recording that shakes the booty as well as the mind, touching the listener's body parts as deeply as Coco's soulful singing, writing and playing can reach.

David Kunian---

 

Originally published in Blues Access (Summer 2001), Issue 46, pg. 70

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