With the Wild Magnolias albums, Willie Tee created a template for Mardi Gras Indian funk that reverberates to this day, a time that finds an unprecedented number of Indians onstage and recording. We’re fortunate to have Monk Boudreaux still on the street as well as on this new album, which includes several possible innovations to that template.
The strongest tracks include Orgone, an L.A.-based funk outfit that helps kick things off on the Gladiators-like “Monk’s Mardi Gras,” with Dr. John contributing on piano. “Don’t Take My Flag Down” offers a bit of the Spanish tinge, even a little Sam Cooke. For a master of wise menace, Monk possesses a surprisingly good touch on the sweeter numbers.
The embellishments on the tracks have their ups and downs. “Mama’s Song” includes an interesting back- up vocal from Jacquiline Hudson, but the song ends just as you start to wonder how wild the climax will be and includes an unnecessary clarinet lick. Here and there we get similarly sutured-on distractions—the costs of experimentation, we hope.
Encouragingly, the last track, “Education,” is a dope recipe: Orgone does Afrobeat underneath Monk chanting the painful memory of being held back in school. A whole album along these lines would shake the power lines Uptown. More Fela on Valence Street, please!