- World excluding USA & Canada
- Louisiana/New Orleans
- Ace Records
- Catalogue Id:
- CDCHD 743
Swallow Records, still run by the personable Floyd Soileau and based in Ville Platte, Louisiana, is the most important and prolific Cajun record label of all. In the 1980s, Ace Records was the first UK label to delve deeply into the Swallow Records catalogue and so bring Cajun music to the masses.
With Floyd's Early Cajun Singles we go to the very beginning of Floyd Soileau's career as a record man. Starting out as a teenage disc jockey with Radio KVPI, Ville Platte, he began selling records as a sideline in 1956 before founding the famous Floyd's Record Shop. Realizing there was a dearth of Cajun product, Floyd released in late 1957 a single on 78 and 45 on Big Mamou Records by accordionist Milton Molitor with Austin Pitre on fiddle. Then Soileau started the Vee-Pee label (named after the initials of his home town) with accordion stars Lawrence Walker and Aldus Roger.
In 1958 Floyd formed the Jin and Swallow labels with no clear musical divisions. After scoring big regional hits by Rod Bernard and Jivin' Gene on Jin, Floyd earmarked Jin exclusively for his popular singles, with Swallow being strictly Cajun music. In this late 1950s period, Cajun artists were absorbing the 'honky tonk' country influence, with the fiddle and steel guitar prominent alongside the imperious accordion. The music here is of joyous two-steps and poignant waltzes in an age when the local dance hall was still the fulcrum of Cajun society.
Our CD booklet features colourful reminiscences from Floyd Soileau and rare photographs from the Johnnie Allan collection.
Needless to say, the original 45s and 78s are gold-plated, impossible-to-find collectors' items. But this is not just a CD release for record collectors and music historians, it should also appeal to lovers of any downhome music and the throng of Cajun dancers. Most of all, it is a terrific tribute to Floyd Soileau who helped to preserve this music at a time when few others cared. Another first for Ace!
By John Broven