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World Music CD Reviews North American

THE WILD MAGNOLIAS

By Paul-Émile Comeau
Published June 22, 2006

Life Is A Carnival
Metro Blue

When The Wild Magnolias released their eponymous album in 1974 the group had already been together ten years and was well-entrenched in the Mardi Gras tradition of New Orleans. A sequel quickly followed, as well as an even better gem by the Wild Tchoupitoulas. Although not huge commercial hits, a new hedonistic genre of carnival music was now available to the world at large. Twenty-five years later, the group has finally come out with a follow-up. The two Big Chiefs (Bo Dollis and Monk Boudreaux) are still on board but the original musicians have been replaced by a large cast that includes Art and Cyril Neville, Wardell Quezerque, Allen Toussaint, and Dr. John (who also performs on five songs that he wrote for the group). The new album features the same kind of fiery call-and-response lead vocals and funky second-line polyrhythms although some of the arrangements don't sound quite as fresh as on the early recordings. Still, the music on Life Is a Carnival effectively echoes the title's call to revelry.