DR. JOHN | CREOLE MOON

It is Mardi Gras everyday of the year as far as Dr. John is concerned. He really surprised me with his latest studio effort, Creole Moon. It's an eclectic mix of funk, r & b, jazz and even has some Latin influence. When listening to this disc it definitely still has a certain Dr. John feel to it. His voice hasn't lost too much over the years, he just isn't stretching it as much anymore.

He gets right into it on the opener "You Swore." It is a real funky song with prominent keyboards, of course, and a driving bass riff. I'm a big percussion fan so it's good to see that the good Dr. still employs a percussionist. He isn't really pushing his voice too much, but it still sounds as if this was 1978. His voice is in excellent shape unlike many of his counterparts from the 60's and 70's.

On the third track, "Food for Thot," Dr. John in fact brings it right back to the 70's. This track is sheer funky bliss, my favorite on the album. The bass player is great on this track, actually he's very competent on every track. This song has a simple but great hook- "A little food for thot," repeated by his male backup singers. It kind of sounds like a Meters song, but that is not surprising considering how close they are geographically. Dr. John is preaching here, telling us what he's seen in his long life- "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink, send a fool to college, but you can't make him think." There is a fantastic little horn solo towards the end of the song right before the bridge.

On the track "Now That You Got Me," Dr. John is challenging someone, a female friend I'm sure. He tells her "You done set my soul on Fiyo," in his strong New Orleans drawl. He uses a really cool voice effector on this song, set up through his keyboard. It sounds like scat, but through the keyboard, which was new to me and sounded very interesting.

The next track and title for the album, "Creole Moon," delivers. A very beautiful, tranquil song, parts of it are reminiscent of Elton John in the mid-70's. It starts out very slow and jazzy. The percussion is used very nicely here,as a backdrop with the piano then layered over it and trading licks with the saxophone. Horns are used throughout the song which gives it a very rich, full sound, there is a lot going on in this song. The good Dr. paints us a pretty picture of a paradise where we can always look up at the familiar Creole Moon and feel its' comfort.

Another great song on this album, "Monkey & Baboon," is a funky little story about a slick monkey. "He wore a tan color suit, a two button snap, long toe alligator shoes, drove a black cadillac." And the hook is great- "He was a sharp motherfucker, ready to shave 'em dry." Dr. John goes on with the story about how the monkey pulls into town, goes to the local pool hall, gets in a knife fight and generally has a grand old time. Quite an entertaining song.

Another standout on this fine album is lucky number 13, "Litenin'." "We've got the litenin', and we've sure enough got the thunder." This is a Latin tinged tune, complete with a fantastic horn section and nice rowdy percussion. Dr. John digs deep and breaks out the timbales on this one. Great percussion on this tune, it makes you want to dance salsa, or is that meringue?

I have to say that I was pleased with this recording. I have to admit that I normally don't rush into stores to grab the latest Dr. John CD, but this one was a nice surprise. When I think Dr. John I think "I was in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time." I didn't expect the many different styles and eclectic tastes on this album, or the superb tight playing. Dr. John has definitely aged well with time.

Sam Katz

[Published on: 10/7/01]

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