The Upshot: Nearly two dozen remarkably potent musical gems that track Mac’s evolution from session musician to full-fledged freak flag waving ,“don’t give a fuck,” King of the parts of New Orleans that tourists never see.
BY JOHN B. MOORE
You would think in 2015, with the ubiquity of the Internet and just about every available genre of music imaginable just a few key strokes away (if you question that statement, just Google “Christian Ska Music”), mainstream radio would be emboldened enough to play a wide variety of music, appealing to many. But, sadly just about any FM music station you can pick up in your car nowadays falls into just a handful of well-established formats: Country, Top 40, Classic Rock and Urban Contemporary (radio industry term, not mine).
It’s amazing to think then that a wildly creative and solidly unconventional musician like Dr. John (born Mac Rebennack) was signed to a major record label for most of his career, Atco/Atlantic, then A&M, and allowed to put out single after single, record after record of his New Orleans gumbo of soul, jazz, rock, pop, R&B and funk – smothered with plenty of Voodoo imagery.
Omnivore Recordinsg – the patron saint of rediscovering brilliantly underrated music – has collected 22 such songs in their Dr. John Atco/Atlantic Singles collection, cramming nearly two dozen remarkably potent musical gems that track Mac’s evolution from session musician to full-fledged freak flag waving ,“don’t give a fuck,” King of the parts of New Orleans that tourists never see. Spending more than an hour with this record, it’s crazy to imagine that not only did the top hat-sportin’, gris-gris wearin’ pianist/guitarist win the allegiance of major record labels, but radio stations actually played his music! Dr. John charted with “Right Place, Wrong Times,” Such a Night” and “Iko Iko,” all still fantastically brilliant songs four decades later, despite the fact that no radio programmer would go near any of them in 2015.
Keep on keepin’ on Night Tripper.
DOWNLOAD: “I walk on Gilded Splinters (Parts I and II),” “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Cold Cold Cold”