Terrance Simien - Positively Beadhead

Terrance Simien
Positively Beadhead

(Tone Cool/Rounder)

First Appeared at The Music Box, October 1999, Volume 6, #10

Written by John Metzger


Terrance Simien just might bring zydeco to a wider audience, and his latest effort is carefully designed to do just that. All of the songs on Positively Beadhead are given a glossy sheen and Simien's groovy, New Orleans rhythms are enveloped in a tightly knit package of roots-oriented folk. In fact, Simien follows an approach similar to that utilized by Paul Simon on That Was Your Mother from his phenomenal Graceland album. This may seem surprising, but Simien had actually auditioned for that album.

In the end, Simon chose Good Rockin' Dopsie and the Twisters to appear on That Was Your Mother, but he thought highly enough of Simien to assist him on his next single. Consequently, Simon recorded backing vocals on a cover of zydeco-master Clifton Chenier's You Used to Call Me.

On Positively Beadhead, Simien joins forces with Milwaukean Paul Cebar to write two songs All Her Lovin' and Paradise. The former opens the album with a whirlwind of zydeco, while the latter shifts gears towards a '50s style ballad. Throughout the disc, Simien's voice glistens with emotion, and comparisons to Jimmy Cliff, Sam Cooke, and Aaron Neville are easily drawn.

Simien refers to his fans as Beadheads, which is a reference to the beads thrown into the crowds at Mardi Gras. However, it also draws a correlation between his own fans and those of the Grateful Dead. Grandma's House was written the night Jerry Garcia died, and Simien imagines his grandmother and the legendary guitarist partying in Heaven.

Not all of the songs on Positively Beadhead work, and this disc surely could have been made a little bit leaner. Nevertheless, when Simien does succeed, he does so quite brilliantly. He has a knack for rhythm, and he knows how to deliver a solid groove. His movement into folk and early rock influences ultimately helps to make this album more accessible. starstarstar

Positively Beadhead is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright 1999 The Music Box