Dr. John: Hot or Not?

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"Gris-Gris" is a cool, weird, witchy album, you've probably never heard anything quite like it. He got a little more mainstream after that. I also have "In the Right Place" (I think it's called that) with the Meters, which is good too, but doesn't have the same voodoo vibe.

Sean, Wednesday, 28 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

"zu zu man" and "remedies" are the only records I've heard that come close to the buried alive with a bottle of absinthe nightmare of "Gris gris".

The rest of his career is a cheap tourist trap Mardi Gras souvenir.

fritz, Wednesday, 28 November 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

"Gris Gris" is worth shovelling over cold hard cash, if you want a perfect slice of weird yet toe-tapping tribedelia, recorded during leftover scraps of Sonny & Cher sessions (no joke). The whole album has that spooky, funky vibe that George Clinton only occasionally approached. What I've heard from his subsequent career veered between overly easy Nawlinpop and lite versions of his "Gris Gris" stuff. There could be some great stuff there, but probably not a whole album's worth. For what it's worth, his voice has matured from a scrappy, scratchy thing into a monstrous presence that sounds like ZZ Top's world-weary, gospel-singing grandpa. Search his cover of "Season Of The Witch," on the Blues Brothers 2000 soundtrack.

Jack Redelfs, Thursday, 29 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

Also search "It Don't Mean a Thing if if Ain't Got That Swing" - on the Duke Elegant release. (The rest of the CD is not as appealing to me..)

Dave225, Thursday, 29 November 2001 01:00 (nineteen years ago) link

one year passes...
I've just been listening to In The Right Place and I think it's stunning.

I've got Gris Gris and Dr. John's Gumbo and they're both pretty good but not as good as this one imo!

Did he do anything else this good? What are other people's faves?

Stewart Osborne (Stewart Osborne), Monday, 4 August 2003 20:09 (eighteen years ago) link

Strangely, I played Gris-Gris last night; I swear I haven't played it since my previous post above.

Sean (Sean), Monday, 4 August 2003 20:30 (eighteen years ago) link

Yeah Gris Gris is great, but i haven't listened to it in years (will put on after current cd is over).

i also spent many moons searching for Desitively Bonnaroo. i saw Thes from People Under the Stairs put it on to play a sample from a song he produced that i think is AMAZING. that song ("Stealin") is good, and the rest of the album has some moments, but no where as good as Gris Gris.

JasonD (JasonD), Monday, 4 August 2003 21:03 (eighteen years ago) link

I am very happy with 'Mos'Scocious' the two disc Rhino compilation, though the last part of Disc 2 tends to lose me.

At one point or another I had a number of his albums but ususaly found them patchy and nevr put them on. The comp does a pretty good job of hitting all the bases and I don't feel like i'm missing anything.

"mama roux" always makes me happy when it comes on.

H (Heruy), Tuesday, 5 August 2003 07:36 (eighteen years ago) link

i have Desitively Bonnaroo and it kicks alot of assage

chaki (chaki), Tuesday, 5 August 2003 09:48 (eighteen years ago) link

eight months pass...
just bought the Gris Gris reissue and like it way more now than when I first heard it back in high school - think i'll tape it for the car.

roger adultery (roger adultery), Thursday, 29 April 2004 04:15 (seventeen years ago) link

five years pass...

Just listened to Gris Gris for the first time this morning -- pretty wild record! What the hell!? Honestly, the only thing I knew about Dr. John was his hamtastic appearance in "The Last Waltz," which I've always kind of hated. But this record is pretty fascinating -- not even sure what's going on here. Maybe in some ways a blueprint for parts of Tom Waits' Swordfish Trombones-era? Dunno, that was the only comparison I could come up with. Let's talk about this record!

tylerw, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 16:49 (twelve years ago) link

Does anyone know any of the backstory to this weird ballad "The Time Had Come"? The lyrics seem really specific, but I'm not sure what he's talking about... find it really melancholy and eerie, really, and quite unlike most of the stuff of his that I like.


Brio, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 16:57 (twelve years ago) link

Babylon & Remedies are very good, I haven't heard anything else.

WARS OF ARMAGEDDON (Karaoke Version) (Sparkle Motion), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:06 (twelve years ago) link

yeah, Babylon is the only other one I have, but I haven't listened to it yet ...

tylerw, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:09 (twelve years ago) link

Gris Gris is tops, Babylon not far behind (very strange record - lots of weird time signatures, a smoking ode to electric guitar players, a children's choir singing the nat'l anthem, etc.), Remedies is good but kinda marred by some questionable production choices that were made without the good doctor's input. His bio "Under a Hoodoo Moon" is great, full of insane stories. Sun, Moon, and Herbs is the other album in the same vein/period and is probably better than Remedies.

Then there's his slightly slicker funk period with the Meters - In the Right Place and Desitively Bonarroo. Former is more famous and has the title track hit, but I like the latter more (both records were mined for samples by Marley Marl and Eric Sermon, among others).

This guy is fucking awesome, one of my favorite musicians ever strictly for his 70s period stuff. Unfortunately his catalog is a mess and he made a lot of poor business decisions (junkies, lolz) but damn what a great set of records.

Blanket McCulkin (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:11 (twelve years ago) link

ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya ya yaaaaaaa yaaaaaaa

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:12 (twelve years ago) link

i guess what I'm curious about is ... how the hell did this record (Gris Gris) get made? Seriously, it sounds like one of the stranger albums of the 60s. And Wikipedia sez it was made in LA at Gold Star Studios! Sounds like it was made in a swamp somewhere. Maybe I just need to get used to it ... Loved it, but was also baffled!

tylerw, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:25 (twelve years ago) link

iirc Dr. John had moved out to LA to do session work along with his sidekick percussionist Diddimus and they ended up at Gold Star. Obviously he had jazz chops so that would get him in the door for various things, but I don't remember exactly what he worked on. I know some solo stuff he recorded ended up on lots of crappy reissue packages for which he didn't see a dime.

Blanket McCulkin (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:57 (twelve years ago) link

the clothes he is wearing on the cover of Babylon were all acuired from the Diggers' Free Store on Haight - that album is like his SF psych scene record

Blanket McCulkin (Shakey Mo Collier), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 17:58 (twelve years ago) link

I thought I read somewhere that the record got made while sonny and cher took some breaks during their recording time

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:18 (twelve years ago) link

linked thru the wiki


By Richie Unterberger

When Dr. John's Gris-Gris hit the rock underground in 1968, it wasn't certain whether its master of ceremonies had landed from outer space, or just been dredged out of hibernation from the Louisiana swamps. The blend of druggy deep blues, incantational background vocals, exotic mandolin and banjo trills, ritualistic percussion, interjections of free jazz, and Dr. John's own seductive-yet-menacing growl was like a psychedelic voodoo ceremony invading your living room. You could be forgiven for suspecting it of having been surreptitiously recorded in some afterhours den of black magic, the perpetuators of this misdeed risking life-threatening curses for having exposed these secret soundtracks to the public at large.

In fact Gris-Gris was recorded surreptitiously, but not in some New Orleans house of sin. It was laid down in the famed Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, where Phil Spector had cut many of his classics. It might have never come to pass at all had Dr. John and his co-conspirators not managed to wrangle some free studio time that had been originally earmarked for Sonny & Cher sessions. The resulting album nonetheless sounded as authentically New Orleans as a midnight Mardi Gras stroll though the French Quarter. Given the circumstances, that achievement was just as magical as anything the most powerful voodoo ritual could have wrought.

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:19 (twelve years ago) link

cher also covered walk on gilded splinters I think

cool app (uh oh I'm having a fantasy), Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:20 (twelve years ago) link

Sonny & Cher thing just makes this album all the weirder.

tylerw, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 18:27 (twelve years ago) link

one year passes...

thanx to whoever sold their copy of the sun, moon & herbs to my local record store. i bought it solely on THE NIGHT TRIPPER name and album art

what a strange and awesome guy!

pretty wild record! What the hell!?


great record

Master of Projection (Shakey Mo Collier), Friday, 11 March 2011 19:52 (ten years ago) link

other recent Dr. John postings on this thread:

Dr. John S/D

curmudgeon, Friday, 11 March 2011 20:03 (ten years ago) link

Hadn't heard that Sonny & Cher story before. Gris Gris is one of my alltime fav lps. Psychedelia without the influence of The Beatles or the Stones though he went on to guest with both bands.

Have been meaning to get hold of the autobio for years.

Aren't several of these Night Tripper lps due a remaster?

Stevolende, Friday, 11 March 2011 20:35 (ten years ago) link

Sorry, when did Dr. John guest with The Beatles?

Number None, Saturday, 12 March 2011 00:07 (ten years ago) link

never afaik

garage rock is usually very land-based (Shakey Mo Collier), Saturday, 12 March 2011 00:09 (ten years ago) link

six years pass...

The new box set is pretty great.
Takes him up to Desitively Bonnaroo.

Sound i spretty great. But there are no liner notes beyond what's on the shrunken lp sleeves they've represented as Digipacks.

Maybe I just need to get around to reading Under A hoodoo Moon which I've meant to do for the last 25 years or something.
But would have been nice if they included a booklet with background on each lp.

Stevolende, Wednesday, 1 November 2017 08:42 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

Sorry, when did Dr. John guest with The Beatles?

― Number None,


✖✖✖ (Moka), Sunday, 10 October 2021 16:14 (one month ago) link

Not really with the full Beatles but with Lennon and Ringo.

✖✖✖ (Moka), Sunday, 10 October 2021 16:15 (one month ago) link

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