Dr. John Is Gone

Every week seems to bring another RIP, another musical maverick gone. This week brings the news of the death of Dr. John (Mac Rebennack). In 1968 he recorded the album Gris Gris, a debut that built a completely self contained world, swampy rhythm n blues, Louisiana voodoo, New Orleans funk and psychedelic rock. Sonically it is far out, voices appearing suddenly out of the mix, ominous and acidic, with tales of witchdoctors and curses, Dr. John’s slurred drawl winding its way though the songs, the lyrics a mixture of Creole, patois and slang. A spooky listen if played late at night in the gloom but a brilliant, innovative and individual record. This song works on any compilation or mixtape, a genuinely brilliant song- ‘Je suis the Grand Zombie… with the King of the Zulu’

Walk On Gilded Splinters

He reappears in my record collection a few times- a CD compilation album spanning his career up to the 90s with Iko Iko, Right Place Wrong Time and Junco Partner. In the 90s he played on Spiritualized’s Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, a record that deals with drug addiction, something Mac Rebennack knew about having fled to London in the 80s to kick his own heroin addiction. In 2012 an album recorded with Dan Auerbach which recaptured some of the Gris Gris spirit and sound. RIP Dr John, the Night Tripper.

Dr And Spaceman

Dr John, the Night Tripper, released Gris Gris back in 1968, still the spookiest New Orleans, gumbo voodoo rock album ever. Not rock music at all really, more a bad but funky r’n’b trip. Walk On Gilded Splinters is in a field of it’s own. He’s got a new album out called Locked Down, recorded with The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, which I haven’t got but am tempted by come payday. Which is today. Hurrah!

This song Gris Gris was given away on an NME cd in the late 90s, remixed by another psychedelic explorer J Spaceman of Spiritualized (who also have a new album out, which I don’t have but am tempted by). I’m sure I’ve got the cd somewhere but couldn’t find it. I found the remix at ireallylikemusic and I hope the original poster doesn’t mind me re-presenting it.

Gris Gris (J Spaceman Mix)

But I Know They Must Be Crazy

To┬ácompare and contrast here’s the Dr John version of I Walk On Gilded Splinters, from his deranged Gris Gris album (1968). This is bizarre voodoo music, with chanting, voices jumping out of the mix, Dr John’s own gravelly vocal, tom tom drums, weird instrumentation and general craziness. Late at night, in semi-darkness, a little wine imbibed, this song can spook a little.

i_walk_on_gilded_splinters.mp3

Some People Think They Jive Me

That Weatherall Screamadelica show on 6 Mix on Sunday night revealed a wide range of influences on the making of the album, from PiL to dub, Can, proto acid house, Eno, The Delfonics, Suicide and Dennis Wilson and more. It’s widely available at blogs all over the place (have a look at the links on the right, or head straight to the reborn Ripped In Glasgow). One of the tracks Weatherall played was this one- I Walk On Gilded Splinters by Johnny Jenkins. I’ve had the Dr John original for years, an 18 carot gold song if ever there was one, but had never heard this version by Johnny Jenkins from his Ton-Ton Macoute! album. So a little internet jiggery-pokery and voila- I Walk On Gilded Splinters by Johnny Jenkins. Jenkins employed a young Otis Redding, and later played with Duane Allman, who contributes some wild guitar to this. Top stuff.

Johnny Jenkins – I Walk On Gilded Splinters.mp3