Get this crazy baby off my head!


Dr. John


Dr. John - Creole Moon - 2001 - Blue Note Records (USA)

A brilliant album of bayou swamp funk blues from New Orlean's legendary keyboard player , Dr John. Creole Moon was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album.


1. You Swore
2. In The Name Of You
3. Food For Thot
4. Holdin' Pattern
5. Bruha Bembe
6. Imitation Of Love
7. Now That You Got Me
8. Creole Moon
9. Georgianna
10. Monkey & Baboon
11. Take What I Can Get
12. Queen Of Cold
13. Litenin'
14. One 2 A.M. Too Many


Dr. John - vocals, piano, Hammond B-3 organ, programming
Renard Poche (guitar, background vocals)
Sonny Landreth (slide guitar)
Michael Doucet (fiddle)
Charley Miller (flute, trumpet)
Theodore Arthur, Jr. (soprano & alto saxophone)
Eric Traub (tenor saxophone)
Alonzo Bowens (baritone saxophone)
Kevin Louis (trumpet)
David Barad (bass, background vocals)
Herman "Roscoe" Ernest III (drums, percussion, background vocals)
Producer - Mac Rebennack
Engineer - Tony Daigle


Dr. John's latest recording, Creole Moon, demonstrates just how much the Doctor, under his various guises, carries in his little black bag of tricks. Whether it's the voodoo trickery of his Gris-Gris days, the Meters-style funk of his In The Right Place and Desitively Bonaroo days, the traditional New Orleans music that was the main course of his Gumbo album, or the piano professor tributes and jazz-inflected sounds of his more recent work, it's all right here. Whenever you put on a Dr. John album, you cannot escape the sense that you've heard it before. On his less inspired efforts, that might not be a good thing, indicating a slip into formulaic arrangements and playing that is not characteristic of Mac Rebennack's best work. On a good recording, though, which Creole Moon most definitely is, the sense of familiarity is comforting, offset by solid songwriting and the odd twist and turn that shows you've not yet heard everything Dr. John has up his sleeves.
The songs here seem pretty personal, even more so than usual, an impression that is supported by some of Mac's annotations in the CD booklet. "In the Name of You", a song co-written with the late Doc Pomus and dedicated to Art Blakey, with whom Rebennack worked on the Bluesiana Triangle album. "It's my personal take on how hard it is for people to separate the myth from reality, all the different ways people love me cause I am a musician." Heady stuff, indeed, balanced nicely by a second line rhythm and great sax fills by Eric Traub. It immediately follows the album opener, "You Swore", another Rebennack/Pomus collaboration that features a Stevie Wonder-like synth sound a la "Superstition" and a great call-and-response between Dr. John and the female backup singers. David "Fathead" Newman offers his usual great sax work (as he also does on the title track and "One 2 A.M. Too Many").
"Food For Thot" mines that Meters/Allen Toussaint groove that delivered such gold for Dr. John in the early '70s. The lyrics are a bit daft, but you won't notice, because your feet will be moving too much. "Holdin' Pattern" and "Bruha Bembe" provide a nice mysterious ambience. About "Holdin' Pattern" Mac's notes say: "This song was written for the sprouts. They all think they so hip. This tells them, put it on hold, have some patience. It's about the wisdom of waiting." Beuasoleil's Michael Doucet provides some nice Cajun fiddle. "Bruha Bembe" is one of those songs about a bayou herbal healer and voodoo woman. It has the requisite mystery and some nice percussion work that conjures up a Caribbean feel and flute from Charlie Miller. It starts with a spoken introduction that is reminiscent of Robbie Robertson's "Somewhere Down the Lazy River", and it has somewhat the same feel.
There's some incredibly beautiful music with an after-hours feel to it on this recording, particularly the trio of tracks "Imitation of Love", "Creole Moon", and the album's closer "One 2 A.M. Too Many". It should come as no surprise that two of these were co-written by Rebennack and Doc Pomus, who were well matched as songwriters and wrote a number of excellent tunes before Pomus' death. "Imitation of Love" is one of those ballads you might have heard Ray Charles sing in front of a big band in the '50s, complete with a big ending. The lyrics are poignant and, according to the album notes, pretty autobiographical. The other Rebennack/Pomus tune, "One 2 A. M. Too Many" is funky, but still beautiful in its description of a New Orleans old-timer. "I have these hip memories of Doc, and the song makes me think of him, especially when it goes through the changes" says Mac. It's a great ending to the album and a worthy tribute to the legendary songwriter.
"Creole Moon" is a bit like a suite in its structure, and demonstrates the sophistication that Dr. John has taken on while still being able to communicate and get people to dance. The opening is a gorgeous piano melody joined by Fathead Newman's alto sax turn that captures some of the tonal quality, if not the musical ideas, of Charlie Parker. There's a segue into a standard New Orleans piano-based sound during the vocal section. This part is not too different from a lot of Dr. John songs, so it may be that it was written first before being fitted into the larger piece. There's a return of the original piano melody, then for the last minute, in slips into a slightly funkier groove with horns backing Fathead's saxophone outro.
There's a lot more here, too, but if you know the Doctor, you have some idea what's in store and there's no point in talking about each track. If you don't know the Doctor, then you probably ain't feeling so great, bunky. I recommend you check out Dr. John's 10 best and place some orders right away. © 2001, Jazzitude, Marshall Bowden

Rhythm reigns supreme on Creole Moon, which cuts a sinuous, syncopated groove through the various styles that have informed the good Doctor's career. The bayou funk of "Bruha Bembe" recalls the juju mysteries of Dr. John's "Night Tripper" phase and the album-opening "You Swore" adheres to the hip-shaking tradition of "Right Place, Wrong Time," while the jazzier sophistication of "Holdin' Pattern," "Queen of Cold," and the title track show how far he has extended his musical terrain. Among the highlights are four songs cowritten with the late Doc Pomus, including the soulful balladry of "Imitation of Love." Guitarist Sonny Landreth and fiddler Michael Doucet contribute Cajun seasoning to this musical gumbo, while saxophonist David "Fathead" Newman and trombonist Fred Wesley provide stellar brass support. © Don McLeese, © 1996-2007, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates
Proper funky New Orleans R'n'B, dished up in a swampy setting that would make a zombie dance. Mos' scocious it is too. A new album by Mac Rebennack and what's he gonna do this time? After years of trying popular standards, tributes to Duke Ellington and even the Tom Jones-styled duets nightmare Anutha Zone (which featured a whole cast of youngsters not fit to share the same studio space), The Night Tripper has finally decided to give us a slice of what he was famous for in the first place! Proper funky New Orleans R'n'B, dished up in a swampy setting that would make a zombie dance. Mos' scocious it is too.
Backed by his band The Lower 9-11, this album finds Mac in fine voice, whether declaiming the blues on "Imitation Of Love" or serving up the spicy salsa of "Litenin'". The food analogies are apt in this case, with Mac, himself comparing the set to an "etoufée" - a dish which reflects the multi-cultural roots of his home town. God knows, Dr John has played with most of these styles over the years, from Jazz to Boogie, not to mention his guest appearances with luminaries such as Frank Zappa, Van Morrison and even Art Blakey.
Overall the feeling is most definitely funky, however. Solidly danceable rhythms pin down work-outs such as "You Swore" and "One 2am Too Many", while he still has time to deliver some of the old Ju ju on "Bruha Bembe". Just feel those hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention! This really is one to compare with his classics like Gris Gris and Desitively Bonaroo. Touring in the UK soon, you'd be crazy to miss the creole confection cooked up by one of the few authentic voices of the Deep South left in the business. It's just the good Doctor doing what he does best. As the man says: " There's only so many bumps on a log, so many grunts in a hog, so many croaks in a frog..." Food for thought, indeed. © Chris Jones , www.bbc.co.uk/music/release/r9xm/


A.O.O.F.C said...


Anonymous said...

Thanks, I liked his old Gris-Gris style!

A.O.O.F.C said...

Hi! Anonymous! Thanks for the comment. He's a legend, and as you say, his Gris-Gris style is unique, and characterizes his best music. Keep in touch!