Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez
(Libertalia lets the good times roll)
by Allene Lewis
(reprinted by permission)
With Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez, Libertalia applies its production concept to a New Orleans- style syncopated five-accent clave rhythm sometimes called a Bo Diddly Beat. In typical Libertalian fashion, no one instrument plays the entire ostinato all the way through. Rather the rhythm-defining motif is commenced on guitar and completed on the Hammond B3 organ with various beats emphasized (at different points in the tune) by electric piano, floor toms and/or horns.
The one-four-five blues pattern usually employed in this type of song is altered by a chromatic walkup from the relative minor back to the root and midway through, the repeating pattern of the basic chord changes is broken entirely by a brief drum solo accented with short horn riffs and punches.
There are two solo sections (both guitar) and both employing Randell Young’s slightly overdriven but still sweet Fender Strat through a Mesa Boogie with no pedals and no effects tone. The first is somewhat reminiscent of the melody of Shortnin’ Bread. The second incorporates a descending melody line similar (though not identical) to the lead vocal in Don Nix’ Goin’ Down (which most readers will identify with either Freddie King or Jeff Beck). On the second pass of the second solo section, Young adds a guitar harmony over the lead line, a production device made famous by The Allman Brothers Band and now frequently employed by Libertalia!
To hold all these crazy multi-instrumental syncopations together and give some rhythmic continuity to the production, Libertalia supports and embellishes the hi-hat with a reed-based African rhythm instrument from Madagascar which Young claims has personally seen used to call forth the spirit of a departed loved one during a tromba ritual of a Famadihana. To me, this Malagasy rhythm instrument (for which no one seems to know the actual name) sounds like a very warm but precise washboard adding the Cajun vibe with just a little more spice from the Dark Continent.
Like everything with the Libertalia brand, Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez is funky, danceable and accessible (read: understandable) to a pop audience but also sophisticated enough to be interesting to a so-called discriminating or Jazz audience.
Both vocally and lyrically, Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez falls somewhere in between BeauSoleil and Creedence Clearwater Revival with numerous references to ‘gators, pirogues and Cajun cuisine as in, “Gimme some mo’ o’ dem biscuits… Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez!” No discernible libertarian theme to these lyrics, this one is strictly for fun.