According to critics plagued by a strong homesickness for their own youth, Dr. John’s best work stems from the early seventies, but Mac Rebennack strings together one pearl after another unhesingtatingly in his third youth, like beads on a Mardi gras-chain from hometown New Orleans.
They are made of plastic, but the sixteen songs on Tribal’s European version are not: one Harold Batiste song, two new gems from Allen Toussaint and thirteen songs (co)written by Rebennack radiate mostly inspiration and pleasure in playing music in a crystal clear production by himself and Lower 911-drummer Herman Ernest III.
With bassist David Barard, guitarist John Fohl and new percussionist Kenneth “Afro” Williams they practise the art of leaving out. In the often layered, but effortless ensemble play they create room for each other and for hornsmen, background singers and occasional solos by saxophonist Donald Harrison and guitarist Dereck Trucks.
Dr. John once again critisizes the failing authorities that abandoned New Orleans so badly, organised religions and we-they thinking, but also finds inspiration in heartache and gris-gris. That way he once again defines his territory, because he again refines it in the gumbo of funk, rhythm ‘n’ blues and Caribbian influences he patented.
Sometimes well-known chords pop up, but these new songs confirm primarily that he is completely unique. Rebennack hinself also realizes that, because in opener Feel Good Music he gnaws ironically: “Feel good music/doctorate your bones/Call me doc, your medicine man/I got a cure in the palm of my hand…”