February 2002

Harry "Big Daddy" Hypolite - Louisiana Country Boy
Analogue Productions APO 2016
Released: 2001

by John Crossett

Musical Performance *****
Recording Quality ****1/2
Overall Enjoyment *****

[Reviewed on CD]Chad Kassem is my hero. An audiophile who actually figured out how to make a living at his hobby, he was determined to put something back into "his" community by creating his own recording label. But, being Chad, he didn't do things by halves -- he bought an abandoned church, set up his own recording studio, gathered together some of the last surviving bluesmen, and gave them an opportunity to lay down their musical thoughts with some of the best sound quality around.

Louisiana Country Boy, the debut album by Harry "Big Daddy" Hypolite, is one of Kassem’s latest releases. It’s also one of his best. Hypolite, born in St. Martinsville, Louisiana in 1937, is a born-and-bred bluesman. He’s lived the music he writes and sings about. Hypolite wrote six of the twelve songs here, with four of the others being covers of his mentor (boss, friend, and bandleader), Zydeco king, Clifton Chenier, with whom Hypolite played until Chenier’s death.

Backed by blues guitarist extraordinaire Jimmy D. Lane (son of the famous bluesman Jimmy Rogers), bassist Loui Villeri, drummer Bruce Cahoon, and organist Big John Amaro, Hypolite (on acoustic and electric guitars) dips deeply into his bag o' tricks and records a session that wouldn’t be out of place in any juke joint between here and the Gulf. Recorded live-to-two-track by engineer Katsuhiko Naito, this is one fine-sounding album. Hypolite’s voice stands out, front and center; a real person singing, not just some disembodied voice. And it’s easy to hear the differences between Lane’s and Hypolite’s guitars. The Hammond B-3 organ throbs behind the two front men, as do the drums. About the only two weaknesses I can find, and I’m really picking nits here, is that the bass could be fuller, and the sound seems a tad rolled off on top. But, as I said, I’m reaching to find these faults (if faults they are) only because this is otherwise such a superb recording, both sonically and musically.

If you’re a blues lover, then Louisiana Country Boy will please you to no end. And if you’re also and audiophile, well, this album will have you dancing down the street naked in pure ecstasy, with "Big Daddy" providing the soundtrack.