The former Mac Rebennack purposely discarded his initial Night Tripper persona for a rootsy homecoming on Dr. John’s Gumbo, drawing a newfound group of psychedelic rock fans deeper into the culture – rather than the often-outlandish voodoo-related gimmickry – of his hometown of New Orleans.
Released on April 20, 1972, Dr. John’s Gumbo included rambunctious covers of local fare like “Iko Iko,” “Stack-A-Lee” and “Junko Partner” – songs that had already defined the Crescent City sound. They finally broke a Mardi Gras-themed fever for Dr. John, providing a platform for a more funk-focused breakthrough the following year.
Part of it was a desire to connect the musical dots, and part of it was about the money.
Dr. John’s Gumbo, he said in the album’s liner notes, was “like a picture of the music New Orleans people listen to – a combination of Dixieland, rock ‘n’ roll and funk. … This album could very well be called More Gumbo, Less Gris Gris. There isn’t any what you might call voodoo rock or ‘gris-gris,’ because my producers and I thought that the people might enjoy hearing the root music from New Orleans, which was maybe the chief ingredient in what we know today as rock ‘n’ roll.”