The Wild Tchoupitoulas

The Wild Tchoupitoulas (Mango ‘76, 91) Rating: A-
This is one of those great one-off projects that comes about every once in a long while (The United States Of America, Temple Of The Dog, etc). The Wild Tchoupitoulas are a group of Mardi Gras Indians headed by one George “Big Chief Jolly” Landry, who wrote and sings lead on most of these songs (vocally he reminds me a little of The Band's Levon Helm). The legendary Allen Toussaint produced, the legendary Meters (Landry’s nephews) deliver the music, a heady brew of New Orleans funk and r&b, and the legendary Neville Brothers (who actually hadn’t formed yet) supply the catchy, harmonized chants. Simply put, you will be singing and stomping along to these upbeat, uplifting, and flat-out fun songs, which are overly repetitive and all sound alike (well, most of ‘em do) but which have such great syncopated rhythms, hooky vocal parts, creative keyboards, and that indefinable New Orleans voodoo magic that the albums flaws (only 8 songs, a scant 30 minute running time) are easily overcome. Just try staying still to the likes of “Brother John,” “Meet The Boys On The Battlefront,” “Here Dey Come,” and “Hey Hey (Indians Comin’)” - I bet you can’t - I could name "Hey Pocky A-Way," "Big Chief Got A Golden Crown," and "Hey Mama (Wild Tchoupitoulas)" as well, and though the albums longest song, “Indian Red” (7:21) is arguably its least impressive, it too picks up eventually. Another guarantee is that you’ll actually be able to pronounce Tchoupitoulas after but one listen to this wildly entertaining album (they sure say it enough), and when they sing “we’re The Wild Tchoupitoulas gonna stomp some rump” they know whereof they speak. It's a pity that this is the only Wild Tchoupitoulas record, but that just makes it more special, and besides, there are plenty of worthwhile Meters and Neville Brothers albums you can listen to.

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