The Wild Tchoupitoulas – "The Wild Tchoupitoulas" – Mango – 1976
From the opening notes of “Brother John” with Aaron Neville’s sweet, soft, delicate voice and the flicker of the tambourine, the record was destined to be a classic.
Sure, there are earlier Mardi Gras Indian records, namely two from the Wild Magnolias, but that doesn’t make this album any less groundbreaking, and it was this album that spawned what was to be the Neville Brothers with all four -- Charles, Cyril, Art and Aaron -- appearing together on a recording for the first time. (You can hear the Neville Brothers coming to life on the opening track.) The beauty lies in taking the call-and-response chants of the Indians that the musicians likely heard on the streets and capturing that spirit and fire in full color.
The lineup of musicians and Indians called together for this recording is stunning in of itself, something that would likely be impossible in this day and age. In addition to the soon-to-be-created Neville Brothers, all of the members of the Meters – George Porter Jr., Zig Modeliste, Leo Nocentilli all play on the recording, which, of course, was produced by Allen Toussaint at the Sea Saint Studios.
There are more than just great musicians on the album incorporating the Indian sound. This was a real Indian gang, 13th Ward Indians -- the Wild Tchoupiltous. There were led by George Landry, better known as Big Chief Jolly, and uncle to the Nevilles. Jolly adds a vital, authentic element to the recording.
The version of “Indian Red” – often known as the Indian prayer and heard all throughout the city on big Indian holidays like Mardi Gras, St. Joseph’s Day or Super Sunday -- alone makes the record worth owning, and the recording’s lasting strength is instead of the hard funk that would be the hallmark of the Magnolias; this recording has a subtle Caribbean lilt to it.
-- Michael Luke --
The Wild Tchoupitoulas - "Big Chief Got A Golden Crown "