Friday, July 16, 2010

Hand Claps: Iko Iko

The Dixie Cups: Iko Iko


I was being stubborn. For some reason, I’ve always felt that I should not enjoy The Dixie Cups’ version of Iko Iko. Of course, the song is a New Orleans classic. It is the best answer you could possibly have if anyone ever asks, “What is the second line rhythm?” The song has been recorded by everyone from Dr John to the Neville Brothers to Buckwheat Zydeco to New Orleans jazz great Donald Harrison. The song has traveled well beyond New Orleans, becoming a concert staple for the Grateful Dead, and even making it to Africa in a version by Zap Mama. And I tried out all of these versions and more, and I can recommend them all. But I kept coming back to two things. For whatever reason, no one else seems to have recorded the song with hand claps. And The Dixie Cups’ version really is great. Those hand claps seem like such a natural part of the song that it’s hard to understand why no one else has used them. So this version may not be the most authentic, and I don’t know if The Dixie Cups even understood the New Orleans slang terms in the lyrics. But it works.

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