Laissez Le Bon Temps Rouler
"Let the Good Times Roll" (Earl King)
Dr. John and the Rampart Street Symphony Orchestra, 1973
Man, it’s been hard getting a post out this week. My weekend Krewe du Vieux romp in New Orleans (more on that to come) wore me out. Not that you should care. You’re just here for some mo’ music, so I pulled out this little miracle of soundboard recording that I picked up at one of my favorite haunts a few weeks back. It’s from a show by Dr. John and “The Rampart Street Symphony Orchestra”, a/k/a his band at the time, reputed to be from 1973 on the CD. There is no further information on it other than the strange title, Funky Knuckle Music. It’s that kind of deal; but what an amazingly clean, clear and fairly well-mixed grey-market artifact it is.
From the sound of the crowd and the acoustics, I’d say this was recorded in a fairly small club. The band is in excellent form and do material from most of his ATCO albums up to that point, plus an interesting cover of “Wang Dang Doodle”. Of course, our feature today, “Let The Good Times Roll”, was written by Earl King, who originally recorded it in 1960 on Imperial as "Come On", and notably covered by Jimi Hendrix. Dr. John recorded it on his 1972 album of classic New Orleans R&B, Gumbo; and this live version is fairly close to that arrangement. While King’s version is bluesy funk, and Hendrix rocked it, the good doctah splits the difference and puts the New Orleans bon temps spin to it. I would guess that his regular drummer from this period, Fred Staele, is the one making this party groove happen. As long as I am in speculation mode and hearing no piano here, that’s probably Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) on lead guitar with his runnin’ buddy, Alvin ‘Shine’ Robinson, on rhythm. As you may know, Mac started out playing guitar primarily when fronting his early bands as a teenager and only switched over to piano (and organ) full time in the early 1960’s when a gunshot damaged a finger on his left hand. It’s a rare treat when he picks up his ax at a show.
Mardi Gras is only two weeks from today, y’all. So, from now ‘til then, we will be kicking it more into that Carnival groove, forgetting our cares, and rollin’ on some more good times. . . . Stay tuned.
[Update: 6/19/2006] As several readers have since pointed out, this recording is from a live radio broadcast. The location, band members and set listings are shown below, supplied by an anonymous commenter - thanks! And thanks to another reader, I have been able to hear virutally the entire show now. I remain impressed at the quality of the entire event archive, including the fact that legendary New Orleans drummer John Boudreaux was on this date, along with the great 'Pops' Popwell on bass. If you can snag a copy (actually there are two CDs worth of material) somehwere, do so. I will be coming back to this show again.
Dr. John Ultrasonic Studios Hempstead, NY Nov.6,1973
Dr John & Rampart Street Sympathy Orchestra:
John Boudreaux, - drums
Robert Lee Popwell, bass
Sugar Bear Welch, guitar,
Darrell Leonard, cornet and trumpet
Jerry Jumonville, tenor sax
Robbie Montgomery and Jessie Smith, vocals.
2.I Walk On Guilded Splinters
3.Danse Kalinda Ba Doom
8.Put a Little Love In Your Heart
1.Interview & Intros
2.I've Been Hoodooed
3.Such A Night
4.Right Place, Wrong Time
5.Let The Good Times Roll
6.Wang Dang Doodle
9.Little Liza Jane
10.Mama Don't Allow No Dr John In Here