The Wild Magnolias - "The Wild Magnolias" – Polydor – 1974
Backed by an incredible band known as the New Orleans Project with Wille Tee, Earl Turbinton Jr., Julius Farmer, Snooks Eaglin (Yes, Snooks is on this), Larry Panna, and Alfred “Uganda” Roberts, Theodore Emile “Bo” Dollis and Joseph Pierre “Monk” Boudreax created a once-in-a-lifetime record that is still the standard bearer for Mardi Gras Indian music, especially the funk side.
Dollis, the chief of the Wild Magnolias, an Indian tribe from the Uptown neighborhood near Second and Dryades streets, and Boudreaux, leader of the Golden Eagles, provide the vocals for this super nasty, funky recording that has its roots in the great traditions of the Mardi Gras Indians.
Think Super Sunday meets a gang of the city’s best musicians on the street, they’re all put in a studio in Bogalusa, La. and see what comes out on the other side: A raw, nasty record that is uniquely New Orleans.
Dollis’ voice is distinctive and powerful on “Handa Wanda” and “Two Way Pak E Way” – numbers that would become Magnolia classics, and Boudreaux delivers a commanding presence on “Shoo Fly”.
A great funk record from a period when New Orleans funk was exploding at this time, but it is also dynamite Mardi Gras Indian record. The band would cut a second record, “They Call Us Wild” that is just as tough as this one, but the distributor didn’t release the record in the U.S. and it wouldn’t make it stateside until 1993. (After renewed interest in these records, a double-disc with both albums was released by Polygram in 1994.)
This is the seminal Mardi Gras Indian album -- all others are merely imitators – and easily a top 5 must-have in any New Orleans music collection.