Sunday, August 28, 2005

Dr. John - The Best of the Parlophone Years (Blue Note, 2005)

This compilation is from the records the good doctor has put out over the past couple of years, and it's a bit of an odd one considering that he only put out three records in this period... looks like a bit of a Blue Note cash grab, but it can still be useful if you heard some of the man's music live or on the radio but don't have the albums, which were a couple of New Orleans swampers and a Duke Ellington tribute. All of which were good in their own way, but never quite reached the leve of the voodo man's best work (1968's Gris-Gris.)

But there are always gems to be unearthed, and the funked up version of Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing" puts a very unexpected twist on an old chestnut. Dr. John's plea to the allmighty, "Hello God" lays the problems of the world on the line pretty well, and "Marie Laveau" sets up a chill-inducing New Orleans swamp groove. For some unfathonable reason (afraid of a backlash?) "Soulful Warrior," one of the best songs he has ever recorded was left off of this compilation. A heartbreaking meditation on war and combat, it is a song that begs to be heard in this political climate - seek it out!

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