When it comes to swamp pop, there are enough clichés. How many more times can someone cover “Mathilda” or “I Got Loaded”? Classics, yes. Covered more than enough, yes. Luckily, The Revelers Play the Swamp Pop Classics Volume 2 is neither clichéd swamp pop nor swamp pop classics.
The record, which keeps up their habit of releasing a short or full length album every year, generously comes with the tracks from Volume 1, adding to its four cuts (it is an EP after all). Instead of reading note-for note from the holy hymnal of Warren Storm, Lil’ Bob, Rod Bernard and the like, The Revelers bring new blood and spirit to the congregation.
Storm’s “Nobody Would Know,” the only cut associated with the genre of swamp pop but not in high use in the lexicon, is sandwiched between three by the likes of Gary U.S Bonds, Arthur Alexander and Spooner Oldham — all classic in their own right, but never tagged “swamp pop classics.”
Storm’s cut stays close to its original, but substituting his piano for their guitar and organ in a honky-tonk dream. Yet elsewhere, The Revelers reinvent: Bonds’ “Trip to the Moon” breathes new life via the subtle squeeze of Blake Miller’s accordion, some hand clap percussion, big Louisiana horns and a rhythm that feels like it was lifted from a Saturday night in Louisiana. Somehow, The Revelers make the countdown in the middle of the song a fun highlight of the record.
Finding similar ground in the crossover style of Alexander’s “If It’s Really Got To Be This Way” — a merge of country and R&B — The Revelers bring it along gently, coaxing it with more not-quite-forefront accordion; its thoroughly broken-hearted nature never diminishes. Oldham’s “Lonely Women” spent time as a 1980s country radio track with Texas roots, but here it’s a swamp-pop-meets-The Flatlanders foot tapper.
Volume 2 may disappoint music fans looking for a collection of songs that South Louisiana cover bands should have left alone 30 years ago. But for those who prefer new thoughts instead of carbon copies, it will do just fine.
Nick Pittman is a freelance entertainment and feature writer. To contact him, email [email protected]