I'm Here!

Clifton Chenier

I'm Here!

Grammy winner! The late King of the Bayou churns out unmistakable foot-stomping cajun accordion dance tunes. "Potent and seductive blend...an open invitation to get off your posterior...joyous"--THE RECORD

No Longer Available on CD
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1. I'm The Zydeco Man 2:55
2. Dry Your Eyes 3:50
3. Zydeco Disco 3:38
4. I'm Here 3:35
5. The New Zydeco 3:17
6. You Got Me Crying 3:28
7. Going Back Home 3:32
8. Eighteen Long Years 4:38
9. In The Mood 2:17
10. Got To Have Your Love 3:49

All titles except In The Mood written by Clifton Chenier and published by Stainless Music, BMI.  In The Mood by Garland & Razaf, published by Peter Maurice Music

Clifton Chenier, Accordian & Vocals
Cleveland Chenier, Rubboard
Warren Ceasar, Trumpet
C.J. Chenier, Alto Sax
Gabriel King, Tenor Sax
Danny Caron, Guitar
Wayne Burns, Bass
Robert Peter, Drums

Produced by Sam Charters
Recorded at Studio In The Country, Bogalusa, Louisiana
Engineered by Eugene Foster
Remixed at Studio 80, London, England
Remix Engineer, Martin Pex
Cover photo by Michael P. Smith
Cover design by Wagner Design Unit
Liner photos by Paul Natkin and James F. Quinn
Liner Design by Bob McCamant
Licensed from Sonet Records

Everyone knows that the guitar and sax are gutsy, rocking instruments, but the accordion suffers from a rinky-dink reputation that's sorely undeserved. Consider Clifton Chenier, the main man of Louisiana swamp music. Clifton plays "zydeco," that wild hybrid of blues and Cajun music which surpasses oil as the Gulf Coast's prime energy export. He rocks, swings and wails the blues, elevating the much-maligned squeeze-box to new levels of infectious funk. And, when audience excitement reaches a fever pitch, Clifton smiles radiantly, dons a gaudy Imperial Margarine crown, and reigns supreme as "King Of The Bayous." Crowds of happy subjects adore him, because Clifton's Red Hot Louisiana Band is one of the world's best dance groups.

Clifton hails from the south-central section of Louisiana known as Acadiana. He started playing professionally in the late forties, entertaining at taverns, weddings and country picnics throughout the Texas-Louisiana bayous. Then, as now, his band always played expressly for dancing, obliging requests for R&B classics, Cajun two steps, even Glenn Miller's In The Mood . To this zesty mixture,Clifton added bluesy originals, like the ones featured on this album, and distilled it all into his own prescription for "le bon temps." Take in two or three of Clifton's irresistible toe-tapping numbers -fast, slow, rock, rhumba or "zydeco disco" - and sweaty euphoria is inevitable.

Clifton's brother Cleveland plays the rub-board, a corrugated metal vest which he slips over his head and attacks with a handful of bottle openers. Cleveland's syncopated percussion bounces off the ferocious drumming of Robert Peter, whose unorthodox self taught style is as powerful as they come. In particularly frenzied moments, Robert and Clifton work out as a funky duo, while the rest of the guys strut their stuff on stage and fire up the crowd.

Clifton's son C.J. is the band's frantic, wailing saxophonist; if you ever catch the group live, check out his synchronized choreography with trumpeter Warren Ceasar. Warren's shattering solo on I'm The Zydeco Man is one of this album's highlights, along with Danny Caron's burning blues guitar work on Eighteen Long Years . Clifton's old friend Gabriel King dropped by the studio for a one-shot guest appearance, while bassist Wayne Burns is back with the band after several years off the scene.

Red hot is no exaggeration when describing this fiery young outfit, who've helped spark Clifton's career revival after several years of serious illness. Not too long ago, the doctors told Clifton that he'd never tour or record again, so I'm Here! is a testament to the personal courage of a man who just wouldn't quit. It's his first studio outing since 1978, and supercharged from start to finish with the same exuberant gusto that makes his live shows so incredibly energizing. "The Good Lord put me here for a purpose," Clifton sings on the title track, and purpose is winning converts to the Church of Crawfish Soul. Turn this record up loud, move back the furniture, and let Clifton Chenier loose!  He's here, right now, just itching to get started.

- Ben Sandmel