Category: Dr. John

Dr. John – Remedies

ARTIST: Dr. John                     220px-dr-john_remedies

TITLE:  Remedies

YEAR RELEASED: 1970

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Loop Garoo, Wash Mama Wash

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Dr. John, Jessie Hill, Shirley Goodman, Tami Lynn, and the band Cold Grits.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dr. John gets back to business, and releases an album with a spooky vibe that contains a whole side for a scary song about a famous Louisiana prison.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dr. John shook off the relative failure of his last album, and came up with a first side of material that fits in with his stoner New Orleans voodoo vibe that’s fun and carefree, like “Mardi Gras Day”. His vocals seem like he’s imbibed and in a good spirit to get into that voodoo vibe.

Then there’s the second side.

Angola is an infamous penitentiary in Louisiana, and at this time was infamous for brutality, assaults, sexual slavery, and egregious use of solitary confinement. “Angola Anthem” was sold to Dr. John from a former inmate of Angola, and is a side-long glimpse into the harrowing life there. The backing is menacing, and the sounds of chains and other metal is absolutely chilling. John’s voice, which on the first side was joyful and stoned, is now fearful.

Not many people know of that track, which is a shame, since it’s definitely a protest anthem toward the harsh treatment of inmates there – and by all accounts it’s not gotten much better.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Cold Grits was a band that’s kind of confusing and I couldn’t get a line on who actually is or was in it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A-: Be prepared for a bad trip on the second side, but it’s art that needed to be released.

 

Dr. John – Babylon

ARTIST: Dr. John         220px-Babylon_(Dr._John_album)

TITLE:  Babylon

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: None

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: It’s pretty much ignored now.

LINEUP: Dr. John, Richard Washington, Plas Johnson, Morris Bachman, Alvin Robinson, Steve Mann, Al Frazier, John Boudreaux, Ronnie Barron, Shirley Goodman, Tami Lynn, John McAlister, Jessie Hill.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The second Dr. John record seems flat compared to the joyous first, and it also seems like a bummer, too.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: It’s not boring, because it still has somewhat of a mystical groove, but the second Dr. John album just doesn’t quite have the same atmosphere as his first record. Though not many albums could follow that one, to be honest.

This one seems a bit flat and muted all the way through. Dr. John also addresses the at-the-time modern culture, with mixed and dated results. The playing is great, and the arrangements are solid – so that’s not it.

I don’t think it’s a BAD album, per se, and again it’s hard to follow Gris-Gris. But it’s muted and disappointing all the same.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dr. John described the record as if Hieronymus Bosch cut an album

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: B-: The intangibles and mood of this album are just off.

Dr. John – Gris-Gris

ARTIST: Dr. John 220px-DrjohnNighttripper
TITLE: Gris-Gris
YEAR RELEASED: 1968
CHART ACTION: None
SINGLES: I Walk on Guilded Splinters, Mama Roux
OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya also has been on late night alternative radio
LINEUP: Dr. John, Harold Battiste, and a lot of LA-based New Orleans ex-pats
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Dr. John, The Night Tripper, creates a New Orleans psychedelic voodoo record masterpiece.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mac Rebennack was an LA piano player with the Wrecking Crew that originally was from New Orleans. He carried his love for New Orleans and all of its mystical, magical, musical wonder and he developed a stage show incorporating New Orleans music, voodoo, and psychedelic soul. Thus, the character of Dr. John the Night Tripper, was born. Shortened to Dr. John, that became his stage name.

Each song is a separate piece of New Orleans music, from experimental jazzy incantations, traditional Caribbean and Cajun dances, almost straight forward R&B, to absolute voodoo masterpieces. Everything has a vibe, a groove and a little bit of voodoo. Dr. John, the Night Tripper is your guide through this wonderland, singing in a mix of English, French, and Cajun, whatever suits the mood. It’s a bit ‘acidic’ at times, especially on “Croker Courtbullion”, which is either a good trip or bad trip depending.

The absolute stellar track is “I Walk on Guilded Splinters”. Credited to Dr. John’s other pen name “Dr. John Creaux”. This mystical, magical trip has been recorded by many artists over the years, but this is the definitive version.

Gris-gris are amulets protecting the wearer from voodoo, but this album is voodoo itself.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Originally, Rebennack wanted his friend Ronnie Barron to be Dr. John the Night Tripper. Barron declined – didn’t think it would be good for his career.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE: A: A few people may be put off by some of the more “interesting” cuts, but my goodness everyone’s gotta walk on guilded splinters!