Friday

Dr. John

Babylon - 1969
Establishing himself as the high priest of psychedelic voodoo with his 1968 debut, Gris Gris, Dr. John tweaked his formula a bit, spaced things out even further and brewed up a far weirder, equally intoxicating follow up with Babylon. Here, the grooves are twitchy and loping, the instruments have more room to roam and the chorus of female voices serves as more of an instrument in and of itself rather than a counterpoint to the lead vocals. Oddly enough, Mac Rebennack's voice toes the line between a frothy Captain Beefheart and Van Morrison on a bad trip, while the music reaches Sun Ra levels of spacial intensity. Taken in album-length doses, Babylon is an incredible achievement that with such a varying palette of flavors and grooves laid out to soak up, rivals Gris Gris in depth and flat-out weirdness. Every track is a highlight, but the chorus of "Glowin'" is one of Dr. John's most beautifully emotive sections in his repertoire, while the electric-piano backbone of "Black Widow Spider" drives and whirls the album to a manic peak. Not easy to come by and sadly overshadowed by its predecessor and Dr. John's funkier, more accessible work with the Meters a few years later, Babylon is an enigma. If Gris Gris was a tidy pot of gumbo, Babylon was a cajun boil with all of its elements poured on the table to feast on and dissect. Delicious.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've been on a Dr. John kick with The Sun, Moon and Herbs recently. Thanks for feeding the jones!

JR HeatWarp said...

My pleasure. Sun, Moon and Herbs is also great one! I also recommend Remedies (the follow up to Babylon) for further listening. Dig it.

Anonymous said...

Hey man-
Major props to The Heat Warps. You have some heavy taste in musik. Thanks for the rad records.

Orpheus said...

A large thank you for this one. I first heard this Dr. John album on CBC radio some 40 years ago. Been missing it.

infinitefool said...

Thanks!!

Cursed Rabbit said...

A great site! Thanks so much for the music and the knowledge...

JR HeatWarp said...

So pleased to hear that this one is being so well received! Thanks to all for visiting and dropping a comment. More great stuff is on the way!

Anonymous said...

thanks very much

Anonymous said...

Hey JR

I bumped into Dr John many a time down here in NOLA, the man is as cool as they come. He is just a laid back dude who will explain it all to ya. This one is one of my favorites by the Loop Guru himself.

JR thanks for showing his music off.

"tha dude put some voodoo in da music make ya all strange after"

JR HeatWarp said...

Man, how cool would it be to bump into Dr. John on his home turf! I'm not surprised he's cool as a cucumber either.

Hope alls well and getting better every day down in the Crescent City.

Anonymous said...

Just saw him last weekend with the Wild Magnolias and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band...needless to say we didn't stay in our seats for very long...Dr. looked good and sounded great! for the encore they invited a bunch o' womens up on the stage to shake they tailfeathers and a whole range and variety went up and boogied down to the band's rendition of Sly's Thank You (falletinme be mice elf again)...funky time...
Thanks for the tunes
David

Anonymous said...

i'm listening to this right now. All these years I never caught up with this album. It seems to take the Gris-Gris album to places only an avant-garde jazz musician would think of taking it. For once, this is truly trippy music. Amazing.

Manderson said...

Man, thanks so much!! I had never heard this one. Lonesome Guitar Strangler will be on repeat for weeks...

Keep up the great work!!