Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Wild Tchoupitoulas 1976

The Wild Tchoupitoulas were a Mardi Gras Indian troupe from uptown New Orleans who participated in the alternative parades on Fat Tuesday. Their leader, Big Chief Jolly George Landy was uncle to the musical Neville brothers (not yet a band under that name) and asked the boys to help the tribe out on a recording of some of their "native" parade songs. The Meters (New Orleans' funky version of Booker T & The MGs) provided the musical setting, and none other than Allen Toussaint produced.

It is a rare one-off that works on so very many levels. But mostly it is grand party music. A blend of swampy New Orleans second line, calypso, and reggae styles keeps focus on the rhythm. If you can sit still, you have Weekend At Bernie's disease. The lead vocals of the elder tribesmen, the tongue-in-cheek hilarity of the Indian battle songs and boasts of the tribe's superiority give the whole event the feel of a true parade atmosphere.

With supportive and complementary musical accompaniment, multiple percussionists, and gang vocal call-and-response all adding to the party vibe, this one cooks. Several future Neville Brothers classics are first heard here, including Brother John and Hey Pocky Way. The highlight for me has always been Meet The Boys On The Battle Front, with that title line followed by "Oh the Wild Tchoupitoulas gonna stomp some rump". The ass they kick will be your own. It's funky as you can be.

Oh, and by the way, girls like this record a lot.

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