Sounds more like the old kind of funk, but that’s nothing to gripe too hard about. The first Wild Magnolias CD with Bo Dollis Jr. as the leader (and Bo Dollis Sr. still doing some of the vocals) is about passing the torch, not clearing the decks.
Sure, there are times when the formula gets tweaked a bit: The metallized “Firewater” isn’t your father’s Wild Magnolias, or even Dollis’ father’s. A popping funk bass turns up on “Tootie Ma” (yes, the one Tom Waits did at Preservation Hall), and there’s a rap break here and there. But for the most part, the album stays in line with the funk/Indian fusions that the original Magnolias dreamed up with producer/arranger Willie Tee in the ’70s. Bo Jr.’s voice is tough and forceful throughout, and there are notable guest turns from Cyril Neville, Tommy Malone and Mike Zito. What the group lacks is its own Willie Tee, someone who can help them come up with new additions to the Indian repertoire. While the performances are fiery, nearly everything here is already familiar—either from the Magnolias themselves (“Firewater,” “Hell out the Way”), lots of other people (Toussaint’s “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky,” Professor Longhair’s “Hey Now Baby”) or both (“Liza Jane”). Even the freshest sounding numbers are remakes of deep cuts from the old albums.
Those include the title song, whose title’s been updated from “New Kind of Groove,” but the groove remains the same—as does the boast of, “Hey everybody lend me your ears, we got something that be good for the next thousand years.” Since the original was only 35 years ago, the expiration date’s still a long way off.