American music came from many places--mainly Africa of course--but it all came together down in New Orleans. And this funky album from the Wild Tchoupitoulas shows so well how the ingredients came together to create the gumbo stew that fed and fueled so many forms of American music. While many forms of percussion were sadly taken from black people in the South, they kept the rhythms alive on the floorboards of juke joints, shotgun shack porches and churches, and down in the islands, the oh so important percussion remained the foundation, and that made its way up to New Orleans. Freed slaves might have picked up horns left behind when the Confederate troops rushed him home after the Civil War, and many Black Americans had amazingly mastered brass and keyboards before the turn of the century, the Creoles had had plenty of access to horns and pianos, and while they might have been mostly separated from many Blacks in New Orleans, when Plessy was pushed to the back of the bus in the 1890s, the laws passed to keep people separate brought together different people of color, and the instruments and styles combined and exploded in streets and dancehalls, the blues and the spirituals, ragtime and music from the islands, marches and jazz all came together, and as the Wild Tchoupitoulas helped reveal, the native nations around New Orleans also added important ingredients to the musical stew of that town, the musical stew of the music of America. At the same time, we can never forget the importance of Allen Toussaint...and the Meters....this album features so many great musicians and captures so many pieces of the puzzle. And the timing of this album couldn't have been better, not commercially of course because it was mostly ignored, but coming in as a bold reminder that all that slick dance music of the big cities needed to understand that while this band's music might be called anti-disco, the dance music of the era was just a city slicker bastard child of papa and mama funk down in New Orleans. While disco had started out as fun music for Black people, designed to get folks grinning and get feet moving, by 1976 it was becoming something else. This album helped show that Black people in the Southern states not only had started all this, but they still had a lot to say. This wasn't a lecture on a podium or a display at a museum; this was a hey pocky a-way in the pocket funky reminder, a blast to your eardrum to get your frown flipped, a calling card to get your feet grinning, a happening happening right then. And right now.
And what a right time to launch this reissue, on the birthday of Art Neville, born in New Orleans on this day in 1937. He not only played a big part in this album, contributing keyboards, vocals, and co-produced the proceedings, but he was an integral part of New Orleans funk and soul, playing with The Neville Brothers and The Meters, and sadly passing from this world in 2019. -- winch (green noise)
"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."
Five-Star AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine