May 23, 2015

RhoDeo 1520 Grooves

Hello,

Today an American singer-songwriter, pianist and guitarist, whose music combines blues, pop, jazz as well as zydeco, boogie woogie and rock and roll. Active as a session musician since the late 1950s, he gained a cult following in the late 1960s following the release of his album Gris-Gris.... N'joy

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Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, Dr. John's Acadian ancestry traces back to the imperial territory of Alsace-Lorraine. He claims that his lineage took root in New Orleans sometime in the early 1800s. Growing up in the Third Ward, he found early musical inspiration in the minstrel tunes sung by his grandfather and a number of aunts, uncles, sister and cousins who played piano. He did not take music lessons before his teens, and only endured a short stint in choir before getting kicked out. His father, the owner of an appliance store and record shop, exposed him as a young boy to prominent jazz musicians like King Oliver and Louis Armstrong, who inspired his 2014 release, Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch. Throughout his adolescence his father's connections enabled him access to the recording rooms of burgeoning rock artists such as Little Richard and Guitar Slim. From these exposures he advanced into clubs and onto the stage with varying local artists, most notably, Professor Longhair.

When he was about 13 or 14 years old, Rebennack met Professor Longhair, which started a period in his life that would mark rapid growth as a musician and the beginnings of his entry into professional music. He describes his initial impression of Professor Longhair with note, not only of his musical prowess, but of his style: "I was also fascinated that he was sitting out there in a turtleneck shirt with a beautiful gold chain with a watch hangin' on it, and an Army fatigue cap on his head.

Although he didn't become widely known until the 1970s, Dr. John had been active in the music industry since the late '50s, when the teenager was still known as Mac Rebennack. A formidable boogie and blues pianist with a lovable growl of a voice, his most enduring achievements fused with New Orleans R&B, rock, and Mardi Gras craziness to come up with his own brand of "voodoo" music. He's also quite accomplished and enjoyable when sticking to purely traditional forms of blues and R&B. On record, he veers between the two approaches, making for an inconsistent and frequently frustrating legacy that often makes the listener feel as if "the Night Tripper" (as he's nicknamed himself) has been underachieving.

In the late '50s, Rebennack gained prominence in the New Orleans R&B scene as a session keyboardist and guitarist, contributing to records by Professor Longhair, Frankie Ford, and Joe Tex. He also recorded some overlooked singles of his own, and by the '60s had expanded into production and arranging. After a gun accident damaged his hand in the early '60s, he gave up the guitar to concentrate exclusively on keyboards. Skirting trouble with the law and drugs, he left the increasingly unwelcome environs of New Orleans in the mid-'60s for Los Angeles, where he found session work with the help of fellow New Orleans expatriate Harold Battiste. Rebennack renamed himself Dr. John, the Night Tripper when he recorded his first album, Gris-Gris. According to legend, this was hurriedly cut with leftover studio time from a Sonny & Cher session, but it never sounded hastily conceived. In fact, its mix of New Orleans R&B with voodoo sounds and a tinge of psychedelia was downright enthralling, and may have resulted in his greatest album.

He began building an underground following with both his music and his eccentric stage presence, which found him conducting ceremonial-type events in full Mardi Gras costume. Dr. John was nothing if not eclectic, and his next few albums were granted mixed critical receptions because of their unevenness and occasional excess. They certainly had their share of admirable moments, though, and Eric Clapton and Mick Jagger helped out on The Sun, Moon & Herbs in 1971. The following year's Gumbo, produced by Jerry Wexler, proved Dr. John was a master of traditional New Orleans R&B styles, in the mold of one of his heroes, Professor Longhair. In 1973, he got his sole big hit, "In the Right Place," which was produced by Allen Toussaint, with backing by the Meters. In the same year, he also recorded with Mike Bloomfield and John Hammond, Jr. for the Triumvirate album.

The rest of the decade, unfortunately, was pretty much a waste musically. Dr. John could always count on returning to traditional styles for a good critical reception, and he did so constantly in the '80s. There were solo piano albums, sessions with Chris Barber and Jimmy Witherspoon, and In a Sentimental Mood (1989), a record of pop standards. These didn't sell all that well, though. A more important problem was that he was capable of much more than recastings of old styles and material. In fact, by this time he was usually bringing in the bacon not through his own music, but via vocals for numerous commercial jingles. It continued pretty much in the same vein throughout the '90s: New Orleans super sessions for the Bluesiana albums, another outing with Chris Barber, an album of New Orleans standards, and another album of pop standards.

In 1994, Television did at least offer some original material. At this point he began to rely more upon cover versions for the bulk of his recorded work, though his interpretive skills will always ensure that these are more interesting than most such efforts. His autobiography, Under a Hoodoo Moon, was published by St. Martin's Press in 1994, and in 1998 he resurfaced with Anutha Zone, which featured collaborations with latter-day performers including Spiritualized, Paul Weller, Supergrass, and Ocean Colour Scene. Duke Elegant followed in early 2000. Additional albums for Blue Note followed in 2001 (Creole Moon) and 2004 (N'Awlinz: Dis Dat or d'Udda). Sippiana Hericane, a four-song EP celebrating his beloved hometown of New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, arrived in November of 2005. Mercernary, an album of covers of songs made famous by Johnny Mercer, appeared on Blue Note in 2006. City That Care Forgot followed in 2008. The Night Tripper persona was revived for 2010's Tribal, which featured guest spots from Derek Trucks, Allen Toussaint, Donald Harrison, and the late Bobby Charles. Dr. John also contributed to French electronic artist Féloche's international hit single "Gris Gris John" the same year. He teamed up with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach to produce and record Locked Down. It was issued in the spring of 2012. Two years later, he released the third album in his tribute series, a collection of songs by and associated with Louis Armstrong entitled Ske-Dat-De-Dat: Spirit of Satch. It featured guest appearances from Bonnie Raitt, Ledisi, and the McCrary Sisters, and Blind Boys of Alabama, and appeared in August of 2014.




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Dr. John's Gris-Gris is among the most enduring recordings of the psychedelic era; it sounds as mysterious and spooky in the 21st century as it did in 1968. It is the album where Mac Rebennack established a stage identity that has served him well. A respected studio ace in his native New Orleans, Rebennack was scuffling in L.A. Gris-Gris was his concept, an album that wove various threads of New Orleans music together behind the character of "Dr. John," a real voodoo root doctor from the 19th century. Harold Batiste, another ex-pat New Orleanian and respected arranger in Hollywood, scored him some free studio time left over from a Sonny & Cher session. They assembled a crack band of NOLA exiles and session players including saxophonist Plas Johnson, singers Jessie Hill and Shirley Goodman, and guitarist/mandolinist Richard "Didimus" Washington. Almost everyone played percussion. Gris-Gris sounds like a post-midnight ceremony recorded in the bayou swamp instead of L.A.'s Gold Star Studio where Phil Spector cut hits. The atmosphere is thick, smoky, serpentine, foreboding. Rebennack inhabits his character fully, delivering Creole French and slang English effortlessly in the grain of his half-spoken, half-sung voice. He is high priest and trickster, capable of blessing, cursing, and conning. On the opening incantation "Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya," Dr. John introduces himself as the "night tripper" and boasts of his medicinal abilities accompanied by wafting reverbed mandolins, hand drums, a bubbling bassline, blues harmonica, skeletal electric guitar, and a swaying backing chorus that blurs the line between gospel and soul. On "Danse Kalinda Boom," a calliope-sounding organ, Middle Eastern flute, Spanish-tinged guitars, bells, claves, congas, and drums fuel a wordless chorus in four-part chant harmony as a drum orgy evokes ceremonial rites. The sound of NOLA R&B comes to the fore in the killer soul groove of the breezy "Mama Roux." "Croker Courtboullion" is an exercise in vanguard jazz. Spectral voices, electric guitars, animal cries, flute, and moody saxophone solos and percussion drift in and out of the spacy mix. The set's masterpiece is saved for last, the nearly nearly eight-minute trance vamp in "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" (covered by everyone from Humble Pie, Cher, and Johnny Jenkins to Paul Weller and Papa Mali). Dr. John is brazen about the power of his spells in a slippery, evil-sounding boast. Congas, tom-toms, snaky guitar, and harmonica underscore his juju, while a backing chorus affirms his power like mambo priestesses in unison. A ghostly baritone saxophone wafts through the turnarounds. Droning blues, steamy funk, and loopy R&B are inseparably entwined in its groove. Remarkably, though rightfully considered a psychedelic masterpiece, there is little rock music on Gris-Gris. Its real achievement -- besides being a classic collection of startlingly deep tunes -- is that it brought New Orleans' cultural iconographies and musical traits to the attention of an emergent rock audience.



Dr. John - Gris-Gris  (flac  187mb)

01 Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya 5:34
02 Danse Kalinda Ba Doom 3:44
03 Mama Roux 2:55
04 Danse Fambeaux 4:53
05 Croker Courtbullion 5:57
06 Jump Sturdy 2:19
07 I Walk On Guilded Splinters 7:57

Dr. John - Gris-Gris  (ogg  85mb)

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Dr. John's ambition remained undiminished on his second solo album, Babylon, released shortly after the groundbreaking voodoo-psychedelia-New Orleans R&B fusion of his debut, Gris-Gris. The results, however, were not nearly as consistent or impressive. Coolly received by critics, the album nonetheless is deserving of attention, though it pales a bit in comparison with Gris-Gris. The production is sparser and more reliant on female backup vocals than his debut. Dr. John remains intent on fusing voodoo and R&B, but the mood is oddly bleak and despairing, in comparison with the wild Mardi Gras-gone-amok tone of his first LP. The hushed, damned atmosphere and after-hours R&B sound a bit like Van Morrison on a bummer trip at times, as peculiar as that might seem. "The Patriotic Flag-Waiver" (sic), in keeping with the mood of the late '60s, damns social ills and hypocrisy of all sorts. An FM underground radio favorite at the time, its ambitious structure remains admirable, though its musical imperfections haven't worn well. To a degree, you could say the same about the album as a whole. But it has enough of an eerie fascination to merit investigation.



Dr. John - Babylon (flac 168mb)

01 Babylon 5:25
02 Glowin' 5:39
03 Black Window Spider 5:01
04 Barefoot Lady 3:10
05 Twilight Zone 8:15
06 The Patriotic Flag-Waiver 4:52
07 The Lonesome Guitar Strangler 5:34

Dr. John - Babylon (ogg 74mb)

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Remedies is not rock and roll, it is something nearly otherworldly, and almost beyond comprehension. While it includes such standout Dr. John tracks as "Wash Mama Wash" and "Loop Garoo," it also includes "Angola Anthem," which is murky, mysterious and downright evil-sounding. Much of this very long cut is lost without headphones, for the music floats about in a smoky fog while Dr. John and his backup singers chant, moan, and cry out. Progressive radio loved this stuff, and it still sounds great during those late-night flirtations with the dark side of the psyche. Remedies must be heard to be believed.



Dr. John - Remedies (flac 245mb)

01 Loop Garoo 4:42
02 What Goes Around Comes Around 2:57
03 Wash, Mama, Wash 3:42
04 Chippy, Chippy 3:32
05 Mardi Gras Day 8:11
06 Angola Anthem 17:35

Dr. John - Remedies (ogg 102mb)

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Originally intended as a triple album, The Sun, Moon & Herbs was chopped up, whittled down and re-assembled into this single-disc release, and while Dr. John never liked this version much, perhaps the single disc is testament to the "less is more" theory. The seven cuts are all quite lengthy and the spells Dr. John and his consorts weave are dark and swampy. "Black John the Conqueror" comes from old Cajun folklore which the good Dr. has modernized and given a beat. The swampy "Craney Crow" is the younger sibling of his earlier "Walk On Guilded Splinters" and has a similar effect on the listener. "Pots on Fiyo (Fils Gumbo)" combines Latin American rhythms with lots of Cajun chants and spells. The vocals are nearly incomprehensible and actually serve as another instrument in the mix. "Zu Zu Mamou" is so thick that you can almost cut the music with a knife. Here, the atmosphere takes on a whole other meaning altogether. The Sun, Moon & Herbs is best listened to on a hot, muggy night with the sound of thunder rumbling off in the distance like jungle drums. Dr. John was definitely onto something here, but just what is left up to the listener.



Dr. John, The Night Tripper - The Sun, Moon & Herbs  (flac 204mb)

01 Black John The Conqueror 6:20
02 Where Ya At Mule 4:55
03 Craney Crow 6:40
04 Familiar Reality-Opening 5:25
05 Pots On Fiyo (Filé Gumbo) / Who I Got To Fall On (If The Pot Get Heavy) 5:48
06 Zu Zu Mamou 7:57
07 Familiar Reality-Reprise 1:53

Dr. John, The Night Tripper - The Sun, Moon & Herbs  (ogg  88mb)

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