Dr. John, The Essential Recordings

Ron Wynn

By Ron Wynn

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Veteran New Orleans vocalist/instrumentalist Dr. John, ne Mac Rebennack, has crafted a masterful, immediately identifiable style that combines rumbling Afro-Latin piano solos and accompaniment with a quirky, manic sensibility. This collection of Louisiana blues and R&B begins with an oddly comical version of "Tipitina," a tune also done in similarly offbeat fashion by Professor Longhair. Dr. John is quite impressive on tunes like "Mean Cheatin 'Woman," where his over-the-top singing makes the song's denunciations seem even angrier, and "Loser For You Baby," a lament his treatment turns into a near eulogy. But he's equally capable with comedic and/or innuendo-laden numbers like "The Ear Is on Strike" and "I Pulled the Cover Off You Two Lovers." Dr. John turns charming and compelling on "Bring Your Love" and "In the Night." Though being a mystical, outlandish character is his stock-in-trade, Dr. John proves far more than just another cosmic jokester on The Essential Recordings.