Today you'll get a never-ending stream of notes that make you feel unworried and thirsty. ... 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 was always respected as a consummate pianist, but he didn't make a solo, unaccompanied piano record until 1981's Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack. The wait was well worth it. His music had always been impressive, but this is the first time that his playing had been put on full display, and it reveals that there's even more depth and intricacies to his style than previously expected. More importantly, the music simply sounds good and gritty, as he turns out a set of New Orleans R&B (comprised of both originals and classics) that is funky, swampy and real.
Dr John Plays Mac Rebennack, The Legendary Sessions, Volume One (flac 210mb)
01 Dorothy 3:20
02 Mac's Boogie 3:50
03 Memories Of Professor Longhair 3:50
04 The Nearness Of You 3:49
05 Delicado 4:10
06 Silent Night 5:16
07 Dance A La Negres 4:00
08 Wade In The Water 4:00
09 Honey Dripper 2:40
10 Big Mac 5:02
11 New Island Midnight 4:44
12 Saints 4:42
13 Pinetop 3:09
14 Careless Love 7:15
15 Deep Blues 2:59
16 Ti-Na-Na 3:45
17 Dorothy (Take 2) 4:18
Dr John Plays Mac Rebennack, The Legendary Sessions, Volume One (ogg 111mb)
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In the summer of 1981, Mac Rebennack, a.k.a. Dr. John, a.k.a. The Night Tripper, walked into a New York City rehearsal studio to record his first solo piano LP. No band, no overdubs, no gris gris, no studio tricks, just Mac at the piano and at his very best. The results of these historic sessions were released on the small but highly respected jazz label Clean Cuts Records as "Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack." Though no one at the time could have predicted that his first Clean Cuts session would mark the beginning of an exciting new chapter in Mac's long and varied musical career, Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack was widely heralded by music critics and aficionados everywhere as one of the seminal touchstones of New Orleans piano style. From a full page of coverage in Time, to Record of the Month in Stereo Review, to Keyboard, Playboy, Rolling Stone, People and Billboard (the record spent considerable time on the Billboard Jazz charts) .... Everyone noticed! When a year passed and Mac's recording and solo performances garnered the highest praise, he returned to the same piano in Chelsea for his second solo date. This session, which yielded the album "The Brightest Smile In Town," is now re-released and re-mastered with the inclusion of six previously unreleased tracks as "The Legendary Sessions Volume Two."
The second of back-to-back solo albums cut in the early '80s, Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack: The Legendary Sessions Volume Two (originally released as The Brightest Smile in Town) presents a more balanced mix of vocal and instrumental tracks than its predecessor, Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack. While it's fun to hear the great New Orleans pianist romp through "Box Car Boogie" and patiently work his way through the twilight blues of "Pretty Libby," the unexpected treats are the best: a heartsick version of Jimmy Rodgers's "Waiting for a Train;" a Doc Pomus cover, "Average Kind of Guy," that sounds like Randy Newman on a particularly good day; and "Marie La Veau," a highly syncopated bow to one of the Crescent City's many voodoo queens. By the time Rebennack ends Brightest Smile with two gorgeous instrumentals--a lovely take on Harold Arlen's "Come Rain or Come Shine" and "Suite Home New Orleans"--you're reminded just how encyclopedic his knowledge of American music is. (The 2006 reissue adds six previously unreleased bonus tracks.)
Dr John Plays Mac Rebennack, The Legendary Sessions, Volume Two (flac 266mb)
01 Saddled the Cow 2:51
02 Boxcar Boogie 5:18
03 The Brightest Smile in Town 3:14
04 Waiting for a Train 3:23
05 Monkey Puzzle 4:42
06 Touro Infirmary 4:47
07 Medley: Just a Closer Walk With Thee / Didn't He Ramble 6:32
08 Your Average Kind of Guy 3:34
09 Pretty Libby 3:15
10 Marie La Veau 3:58
11 Come Rain or Come Shine 4:45
12 Suite Home New Orleans 3:53
13 Key to the Highway 3:48
14 Mississippi Mud 2:00
15 Lowdown, Worried and Blue 3:50
16 Sippiana Midnight 2:15
17 Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu 3:55
18 Yesterdays 1:34
Dr John Plays Mac Rebennack, The Legendary Sessions, Volume Two (ogg 142mb)
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On Dr. John's first major-label effort, and first vocal studio album in ten years, he performs a set of pop standards including Cole Porter's "Love for Sale" and Johnny Mercer's "Accentuate the Positive." After starting out with a wild stage act and unusual costumes, Dr. John has evolved into a vocal stylist and piano virtuoso, which makes the idea of doing this sort of material appealing. And he does it well, turning out a leisurely duet with Rickie Lee Jones on "Makin' Whoopee" that won a Grammy (Best Jazz Vocal Performance, Duo or Group), and giving sad feeling to "My Buddy." Maybe he has changed since the Gris Gris days, but even a mellowed Dr. John is a tasty one.
Dr. John - In A Sentimental Mood (flac 220mb)
01 Makin' Whoopee! 4:09
02 Candy 5:33
03 Accentuate The Positive 3:55
04 My Buddy 3:50
05 In A Sentimental Mood 4:05
06 Black Night 4:12
07 Don't Let The Sun Catch You Cryin' 4:52
08 Love For Sale 5:18
09 More Than You Know 4:40
Dr. John - In A Sentimental Mood (ogg 94mb)
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