22 January 2013

22nd Jan - Dr John's Gris-Gris

Artist – Album: Dr John – Gris Gris
Released: 22nd January 1968
Sounds Like: Voodoo boogaloo

Gris-Gris is an album with it’s roots firmly in the music of deepest, darkest Louisiana. It’s beguiling potion mixes Dr John’s gruff vocals - sounding like a Bayou Captain Beefheart - spindly guitar and swampy percussion to create the cursed groove that permeates this record.

Apparently (that is, according to Wikipedia...) a gris-gris itself is an African amulet worn to protect the wearer from evil or to bring luck. With the opening track on this album, and with the bits that are both in English and decipherable, Dr John paints himself as some sort of shaman, extolling the virtues of his own gris-gris and the power of his witchcraft. This is followed by ‘Danse Kalinda Ba Doom’, which has the vibe of a psychedelic tribal dance and ‘Mama Roux’, a softer, more traditionally Cajun tale of a medicine woman. With ‘Danse Fambeaux’ we’re back on to Dr John himself and his infamous gris-gris.

The last track on the album, ‘I Walk On Gilded Splinters’, is arguably the best, and certainly the creepiest. Out of the murky backbeat comes a distant call and response from Dr John and his backing singers, and the sporadic guitar lick that splits through the gloom. The song has been covered by many, including Paul Weller with the first version I ever heard, but the original remains the best.

It’s no surprise that there’s nothing else that sounds like this, after all there‘s only so much room for psychedelic New Orleans R&B hybrids about black magic and hoodoo. But this is an exceptional effort that deserves your attention. And if you don’t give it, Dr John will put a spell on you.

Albumaday... rating: 8/10

1.       Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya – 5:36
2.       Danse Kalinda Ba Doom – 3:39
3.       Mama Roux – 2:59
4.       Danse Fambeaux – 4:56
5.       Croker Courtbullion – 6:00
6.       Jump Sturdy – 2:20
7.       I Walk On Gilded Splinters – 7:37

Listen to ‘Mama Roux’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3n3CShvEWWs

Also released on the 22nd January:
2001: Low – Things We Lost In the Fire
Also released on the 22nd January:
2001: Rosie Thomas – When We Were Small

No comments:

Post a Comment