Monday, May 20, 2019

TCCDM Pulls One Out..."Gris-gris" (1968)

"Gris-gris" - Dr. John (1968)

I had no idea when I picked up this album that "Gris-gris" would slip into my “house on fire” takeout bag of records.  I like it that much.  This is a stew of New Orleans r&b sprinkled with psych salt and stirred into a strange caldron of voodoo blues.  The music is very cool and, at times, a little unsettling

I'm not going to banter too much hyperbole about the album's spooky reputation, although it does come by it honestly.  Spinning "Gris-gris" is a fascinating and mysterious experience.  True that.  Voodoo chanting and strange unexpected sounds over a variety of hypnotic rhythms give everything a haunting vibe.  As if Dr. John struck a bargain with who-knows-who allowing him to channel the original Dr. John Montaine, the high priest of New Orleans voodoo.  And, like I said, it is a little unsettling.  Like being an uninvited guest stumbling into an "Eyes Wide Shut" ceremony where guests wear grotesque masques and skintight clothes.  You know you don't belong, but your feet won't move.  This is an album in its truest form, meant to be enjoyed in its entirety.  Everything leads up to “I Walk On Guilded Splinters.”  The final track.  The album is perfect.  And kind of fun.  And it also makes for an enjoyable headphone experience.

It wasn't until I got home, that I noticed the shadowy profile behind the man on the front cover.  Don't know how I missed it, but I sure did.
FWIW...this was ranked #143 on the RS list of 500 greatest all-time albums.

"Gris-gris" (back)

ATCO label

"Croker Courtbullion" - Dr. John / "Gris-gris" (1968)

A1  "Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya" 5:34
A2  "Danse Kalinda Ba Doom" 3:44
A3  "Mama Roux" 2:55
A4  "Danse Fambeaux" 4:53
B1  "Croker Courtbullion" 5:57
B2  "Jump Sturdy" 2:19
B3  "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" 7:57

Dr. John - vocals, keyboards, percussion
Dr. Battiste - bass, clarinet, percussion
Dr. Ditmus - percussion
Senator Bob West - bass
Dr. Boudreaux - drums
Gov. Plas Johnson - saxophone
Dr. Boulden - flute
Dr. Steve Mann – bottleneck guitar, banjo
Dr. McLean - guitar, mandolin
Dido - congas
Dave Dixon, Jessie Hill, Ronnie Barron – b-vocals, percussion
Joni Jonz, Prince Ella Johnson, Shirley Goodman, Sonny Ray Durden, Tami Lynn – b-vocals

Good stuff.

Casey Chambers

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