Dr. JOHN – The Best Of The Parlophone Years 2005

Dr. JOHN – The Best Of The Parlophone Years 2005


This set draws from the four albums Dr. John recorded for the British Parlophone label from 1997 to 2004 (released in the United States on Blue Note and Virgin). In the several decades since his popular emergence as the Night Tripper he’s become one of the respected elders of New Orleans music. These seventeen songs show him to be drawing from deep Crescent City traditions, as well as R&B, jazz, swing, balladry. The set also showcases his work with a range of notable guests (from Paul Weller to randy Newman to Mavis Staples). These collaborators never overshadow the good Doctor, rather, they show how broad their shared influences are, as well as what a formidable shadow he casts across the music that’s followed him.
By David Greenberger.
On this album different songs from the good doctor’s other albums come together. This is a great album for people interested in hearing what Dr. John is all about. Hen Layin Rooster is a personal favorite because it brings two old school cats together (Dr. John & B.B. King). If you want to take an adventure with the voodoo king from New Orleans…buy this album. You won’t regret it.
By Matt Morrison.
This fine compilation brings together highlights from Dr. John’s Parlophone tenure, covering four albums recorded between 1998 and 2004. Selections from the records are distributed fairly evenly across THE BEST OF’s 17 tracks, and display Dr. John’s lovable growl, honky-tonk funk, and bluesy, New Orleans gumbo approach. On top of that, THE BEST OF features cameos by everyone from Mavis Staples to Paul Weller.

Among Dr. John’s many talents are his penchant for dabbling in different projects and styles, and his excellent taste in collaborators. ANUTHA ZONE is a record Dr. John cut in London with a host of young admirers (most of them rock musicians), including members of Supergrass, Spiritualized, Ocean Colour Scene, and the Beta Band. DUKE ELEGANT is a tribute album to Duke Ellington, while CREOLE MOON is a funk-based collaboration with James Brown band lynchpin Fred Wesley. N’AWLINZ: DIS DAT OR D’UDDA featured another all-star roster, including Willie Nelson, B.B. King, and Randy Newman (who performs on the excellent “I Ate Up the Apple Tree” here). The diverse directions on these albums come together surprisingly well here, unified expertly by the dynamic performances of Dr. John and company, and the fine sequencing of the collection.
Since signing to Parlophone 1997, Dr John has released four great albums – all very different, but all in the distinctive and inimitable style of the music industry’s favourite physician. From ‘Anutha Zone’ in 1998 with a host of guest collaborations, through the Duke Ellington Centenary celebration ‘Duke Elegant’ in 1999, to his personal interpretation of New Orleans in 2001 with ‘Creole Moon’, and last year’s star-studded ‘N’Awlinz – Dis, Dat Or D’Udda’, Dr John has produced a wealth of latter-day musicality for the label. Parlophone is proud to release a veritable gumbo from ‘The Night Tripper’ – the best tracks from this productive eight year period with ‘The Best Of The Parlophone Years’, including the good Doctor’s own sleevenotes commenting on each of the four albums from which the tracks are taken. As well as Dr John’s unmistakeable vocals and keyboard along with his regular band, featured artists include BB King, Paul Weller, Joolz Holland, Randy Newman, Mavis Staples and Gaz Coombes/Mick Quinn (Supergrass), J.Spaceman a/k/a Jason Pierce (Spiritualized) amongst others. As a bonus to his loyal fans, the album also features two bonus tracks – the previously unissued ‘Careless Love’ from the 2004 N’Awlinz – ‘Dis, Dat Or D’Udda sessions’ and ‘Look Out’ – only previously available as a bonus track on the Japanese version of ‘Anutha Zone’.
Perhaps Dr John said it best himself in the liner notes of this CD:
“I was just trying to do what is typical of the New Orleans tradition of doin’ something different with the music at hand…”
Indeed, Dr. John is different. There’s no denying it.
Over the course of his career, he’s always cooked up a funky musical gumbo for us to sample, that mouthwatering blend of R&B, psychedelic swamp rock, and blues. Why should The Best of the Parlophone Years be any different? It works for him.
Maybe one of the reasons I like Dr John so much is because he likes to mix it up and add his signature touch to classic tunes like “It Don’t Mean a Thing” – the song takes on a whole new flavor once he’s done with it. If you didn’t know any other version, you’d still recognize it as a song that’s been stretched and kneaded into something Duke Ellington likely never envisioned it being. Definitely not in the gravelly drawl that is distinctively Dr. John.
I particularly enjoyed “Hen Layin’ Rooster” – a great collaboration with B.B. King and Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, “I Don’t Wanna Know”, “Look Out”, and “Sweet Home New Orleans” – a fairly upbeat love song to Dr. John’s hometown.
In addition to Gatemouth and B.B., look for guest appearances from Randy Newman, Jools Holland, Paul Weller, and Bobby Broom as they give the piano master a hand with some down home voodoo blues.
Dr. John may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I like him and I like The Best of the Parlophone Years.
By Joan Hunt.
01. Zonata 0:46
02. I Like Ki Yoka 3:43
03. It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) 5:32
04. Voices In My Head 4:36
05. Marie Laveau 6:51
06. Party Hellfire 4:43
07. Now That You Got Me 3:31
08. Hen Layin’ Rooster 3:36
09. I Ate Up The Apple Tree 3:35
10. I’m Gonna Go Fishin 5:05
11. Hello God 4:39
12. Food For Thot 4:59
13. I Don’t Wanna Know 3:25
14. Lay My Burden Down 4:33
15. Sweet Home New Orleans 5:50
16. Careless Love 4:18
17. Look Out 3:40

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