BeauSoleil: Alligator Purse

Michael Doucet’s bayou crew is still going strong after 30-plus years and 20-plus albums – as evidenced by this sprightly 13-song set of new songs, Cajun classics, and unlikely covers. BeauSoleil bills Alligator Purse as “the funkiest history lesson ever created,” and although that’s a pile of publicist hyperbole, this is still a typically strong set, bolstered by appearances from famous names both obviously complementary (Garth Hudson, Roswell Rudd, Bill Keith) and not (Natalie Merchant, John Sebastian). The popular knock on BeauSoleil has always been their willingness to tinker with the traditional Cajun formula, and the band’s detractors will find plenty to grouse about here; Alligator Purse maintains the spirit of freewheeling experimentation that has infused their music since the beginning. The band’s detractors are miserable sticks in the mud, though – every BeauSoleil record is the soundtrack to a party waiting to happen, and this is no exception. Highlights include a woozy take on the classic “Marie” and covers of Muddy Waters’ “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” and J.J. Cale’s “The Problem” – not to mention Merchant’s saucy vocal cameo on “Little Darlin’” – but the whole set is stronger than any new album from an act that’s been around this long has a right to be. Never mind the purists – just turn this up and stay awhile. (Yep Roc 2008)

Official BeauSoleil site