The Wild Tchoupitoulas

The Wild Tchoupitoulas

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The Wild Tchoupitoulas -- a group of Mardi Gras Indians headed by George "Big Chief Jolly" Landry -- only released one album, but that one record caused a sensation upon its initial 1976 release. It was one of the first records of the album-oriented rock generation that captured the heady gumbo of New Orleans R&B and funk. Landry may have fronted the Wild Tchoupitoulas, but the key to the record's success was his nephews, Charles and Cyril Neville, who headed the rhythm section. They drafted in their brothers, Art and Aaron, to harmonize, and thereby unwittingly gave birth to the band that became the Neville Brothers. Still, the fact that The Wild Tchoupitoulas ranks among the great New Orleans albums isn't because of the Nevillles themselves, but the way the Wild Tchoupitoulas lock into an extraordinary hybrid that marries several indigenous New Orleans musics, with swampy, dirty funk taking its place in the forefront. There are only eight songs, and they are all strung together as if they're variations on the same themes and rhythms. That's a compliment, by the way, since the organic, flowing groove is the key to the album's success.

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