December 19, 2008

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.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This makes me feel better about the weirdness factor inherent in celebrating Christmas below the Equator. Thank you.

12:07 AM, December 21, 2008  
Blogger ana-b said...

thanks for the tune, i hadn't heard it before...

wish i could give you a present in return for all the nice music and posts...

Merry Christmas....


6:04 PM, December 22, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very cool. Mac uses the same intro and turnaround that he does on his cover of the Grateful Dead's "Deal" on the Deadicated compliation.

10:25 AM, December 26, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice Track Dan, Mac is among my New Orleans favorite ! I wish you a meery Christmas and a great New Year eve !

11:16 AM, December 26, 2008  
Blogger New Orleans All the Way Live said...

Dan - I've been digging your blog for about a year now. Great work. Could you email a way to reach you? I'd like to send you a copy of the show I recently did with Dave Bartholomew on WWOZ.

George Ingmire

10:55 PM, January 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The best track Mac can offer. It sets up the mood and he's one New Orlean's best acts. Just love his suave.

Home Music Recording Blog

10:54 PM, January 09, 2009  

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