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Friday, April 21, 2017

45 Years Ago, Dr. John Returns to His New Orleans Roots

This was no accident for Dr. John

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.”

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