Round John Virgin
Faubourg Marigny, New Orleans, 2008
Well, the holidays are upon us. Lots going on, of course. But, thought I'd feature this Dr. John (Mac Rebennack) track from a 1989 LP called Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, an obscure various artists project with the Roches, the late Nicolette Larson, the good Doc and others, recorded in Manaroneck, NY. I don't even recall where I picked this up, but fairly soon after it came out - it was already a cut-out.
"Silent Night" (Joseph Mohr - Franz Gruber)
Dr. John, from Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, Real Live/Rhino, 1989
Although outside of Mac there seem to be no New Orleans players on the track, he manages to get a decent groove out of the assembled session cats, as he proceeds to funk up the traditionally solemn, serene "Silent Night" and infuse his arrangement with a righteous gospel feel. I think I recall him doing a version of this on the David Letterman show back around this time, maybe with Darlene Love singing backup. Perhaps I am mis-remembering some or all of that. No matter.
Players include Mac on piano and organ; Will Lee on bass and percussion (another Letterman connection, as he still plays in the show's band), Andy Bloch, guitar; Joe Bonadio, drums and percussion; Joe Ferry, percussion (also the producer); and choir, Terre Roche, Amy Fraden, Leslie Ritter, and Tommy McDonnell, all singin' real pretty.
Fans of Dr. Johm will recall that he did anoter version of this song solo that was recorded originally in 1981 for his Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack LP sessions; but it was not released until the later CD version, and had a simpler New Orleans barrelhouse piano approach. He certainly upped the ante on this latter take; and just listen to him radiate those 88s in true New Orleans piano professor style on his solo. After I heard this, I never wanted the song done any other way.
Wishing y'all the best this holiday season. I'll be back after Xmas with my year end short reviews of some Crescent City related CDs I dug this year, then back to music soon thereafter.