Papa Mali, “I’m a Ram” from Music is Love (2015): Something Else! sneak peek

Papa Mali has been, more recently, combining his deep-fried Bayou State musical sensibilities with a distinctly psychedelic West Coast vibe — writing with Robert Hunter and performing with Bill Kreutzmann, both legendary figures in the Grateful Dead.

Forget all of that. As you’ll hear on this exclusive advance stream of “I’m A Ram,” a shotgun shack-rattling R&B delight written with Teenie Hodges for 1971’s Al Green Gets Next to You, Papa Mali still knows how to slow cook a tangy groove.

“I’m a Ram,” one of the head-wagging highlights of Papa Mali’s upcoming Music is Love, hurtles along with help from drummer Johnny Vidacovich’s shaggy groove and an utterly nasty organ signature courtesy of Josh Paxton. Music is Love, due on March 17, 2015 via 429 Records, was recorded in New Orleans along with Mike Dillon, Casandra Faulconer, Dave Easley and the Harmonaires, as well.

But it’s Papa Mali — obviously, thankfully and completely recovered now from a health scare — who sits in the middle of this cauldron of funky coolness. As he barks and growls his way through the Al Green lyric, a prismatic echo (courtesy of producer John Chelew) only deepens the sense of lurking danger surrounding Papa Mali’s dark reading.

The results are an intriguing voodoo of sex and danger, something that seems to always surround the best Louisiana music. File Papa Mali’s “I’m a Ram” thusly.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso