Mardi Gras remains one of America’s most other-worldly cultural riots, never more exotic than in the beaded, feathered spectacle of New Orleans’ black “Indian” tribes. Each year they stir the city’s African, Native American, and European influences into an intoxicating gumbo roiling with syncopated rhythms and coded with their own sense of the festival’s competitive spirit. It’s that tradition that explains this deliriously infectious 1976 project, which magnifies the Tchoupitoulas’ fanny-shaking bravado with a formidable studio crew helmed by producer Allen Toussaint, who enlisted the Neville Brothers and the Meters to give these tracks a kinetic R&B push-and-pull. With the Nevilles’ choral vocals fleshing out traditional chants, this is funky prancing of the highest order, from the infectious “Brother John” to a ripe remake of the Meters’ “Hey Pocky A-Way.” One need only hear the tough bragging of “Meet the Boys on the Battlefront,” with its promise that “the Wild Tchoupitoulas gonna stomp some rump,” to get the outrageous picture
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