Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Wild Magnolias

  • The Wild Magnolias [Polydor, 1974] A-
  • The Wild Magnolias [Polygram, 1993] A-
  • Life Is a Carnival [Metro Blue, 1999] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Wild Magnolias [Polydor, 1974]
Produced by Willie Tee, with Snooks Eaglin letting you know he's on guitar and semi-amateurs "Bo" Dollis and "Monk" Boudreaux shouting the vocals, here's some Mardi Gras music a little louder and jammier than we expect from Tee's Crescent City rival Allen Toussaint. In fact, it's the most boisterous recorded party I know, two sides of dancing fun that wears down only slightly as it slips into "Saints." This is not only what I always wanted the polyrhythm kids on the bandstand and benches of Tompkins Square Park to sound like, it's also what I always wanted Osibisa and the Ohio Players and maybe even the Meters to sound like. A-

The Wild Magnolias [Polygram, 1993]
Like The Wild Tchoupitoulas, where Allen Toussaint hung vocals on the Meters, The Wild Magnolias is a producer's record. What's made it legendary isn't its documentation of Mardi Gras Indians but the myth Willie Tee hangs on his guitaristic funk. It jams on and on, a pseudofolkloric Get on the Good Foot, yet it's as taut as the Magnolias' later faux field recording with Ron Levy is slack. This digital version adds five tracks for 11 in all, including carnival songs the Tchoups took over and the astonishing nine-minute call-and-response Monk Boudreaux builds off "Shoo fly, don't bother me." In 1974 I might have found it repetitive. Now I think it jams on and on and on. A-

Life Is a Carnival [Metro Blue, 1999]
The New Orleans Funk Repertory Orchestra ("Pocket Change," "Pock-a-Nae"). *