June 07, 2005

The Big Easy In The Big Apple

"Wild Honey" (Mac Rebennack - Bobby Charles Guidry)
Dr. John, from City Lights, A&M Horizon, 1978

Gone to kingdom come

“Wild Honey” is like comfort food to me, except that listening to it repeatedly won’t supersize me. It’s one of my favorites by Mac Rebennack, a/k/a Dr. John, that I come back to for the sly, double entendre lyrics and feel good, easy-going funk groove. He wrote it with lyricist Bobby Charles (Robert Charles Guidry), a great songwriter from Southwest Louisiana, who Mac has known since his teenage days working sessions in New Orleans.

City Lights is a New York City record, but with an unmistakable HOTG influence. During the late 1970’s, Dr. John spent much time in New York, doing a lot of writing with esteemed R&B lyricist and composer, Doc Pomus. When offered a recording deal with the A&M Horizon label, Mac took it primarily for the chance to work with noted producer, Tommy LiPuma, who he had met in his California days, and the top notch session players that were lined up, such as drummer Steve Gadd, bassist Will Lee, guitarist Hugh McCracken,, and sax men David Sanborn and Ronnie Cuber. The result of their combined first effort, City Lights presents masterful takes on a mix of Rebennack’s own tunes and collaborations with Pomus, Charles, and Shine Robinson. LiPuma gives the album just the right touch of class, while not overshadowing the good Dr.’s essential, authentic, fonky soul.

A second LiPuma-produced LP, Tango Palace, followed on Horizon; but the label folded shortly thereafter; and, thus, both records have been seldom heard entries in Dr. John’s discography. I consider City Lights to be one of his best and highly recommend it as one to own and enjoy, as well as Tango Palace, to a somewhat lesser extent. With the great production, serious NYC (and a few HOTG) players, and quality tunes, Dr. John was definitely in the right place at the right time for making good music when he made City Lights in the Big Apple.

Here are a couple of more Bobby Charles links:

Best of New Orleans
Japanese Fan Site


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are rite 'bout Dat.But Don't forget to mention the work of John Tropea on guitar, and Artie Jenkins on Percussion. I LOVE This album. I believe in your excitement you omitted one of the best parts of this enterprise-The Back Cover

9:24 PM, June 08, 2005  

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