Doctor John's second solo piano album finds him combining country, blues, and New Orleans standards with originals, half of them instrumentals, and half of them containing vocals that sound like they were recorded off the piano microphone. This is not a high-tech recording, by any means, but in its unadorned way it does capture the flavor of Doctor John as directly as any record he's made.
Compilation album with some of the most important recordings in career of film actress Norma Jean Mortenson (California, 1926-1962), aka 'Marilyn Monroe'. Certainly his work as a singer was not her main artistic side, but the fact that in many of her movies interpret songs added value to her artistic projection. The repertoire features eighteen melodies presented in films with the last track, containing only the famous greeting of Marilyb to President Kennedy on his birthday party.
Dr. John has recorded many great albums, but it's difficult to argue with such a perfect distillation of his catchy, grooving, slapdash pop work as this Rhino set. Coming out of the R&B studio subculture of New Orleans, the former Mac Rebennack possessed songwriting smarts and reams of recording expertise, each of which had reached their peak by the early '70s. Focused squarely on that prime era, 1970 through 1974…
The second of back-to-back solo albums cut in the early ‘80s,
The Brightest Smile in Town presents a more balanced mix of vocal and instrumental tracks than its predecessor, Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack.
While it’s fun to hear the great New Orleans pianist romp through “Box Car Boogie” and patiently work his way through the twilight blues of “Pretty Libby,”
the unexpected treats are the best : a heartsick version of Jimmy Rodgers’s “Waiting for a Train;” a Doc Pomus cover, “Average Kind of Guy,” that sounds like Randy Newman on a particularly good day; and “Marie La Veau,” a highly syncopated bow to one of the Crescent City’s many voodoo queens.
By the time Rebennack ends Brightest Smile with two gorgeous instrumentals – a lovely take on Harold Arlen’s “Come Rain or Come Shine” and “Suite Home New Orleans” – you’re reminded just how encyclopedic his knowledge of American music is.
Keith Moerer @ Amazon.com
This concert film captures beloved pianist and musician Dr. John performing a 1995 concert. The setlist includes "Iko Iko," "Gee Baby Ain't I Good To You," "Right Place, Wrong Time," "Goin' Back to New Orleans," "Mess Around," amd "Makin' Whoopee."
Although he didn't become widely known until the 1970s, Dr. John had been active in the music industry since the late '50s, when the teenager was still known as Mac Rebennack. A formidable boogie and blues pianist with a lovable growl of a voice, his most enduring achievements fused with New Orleans R&B, rock, and Mardi Gras craziness to come up with his own brand of "voodoo" music. He's also quite accomplished and enjoyable when sticking to purely traditional forms of blues and R&B. On record, he veers between the two approaches, making for an inconsistent and frequently frustrating legacy that often makes the listener feel as if "the Night Tripper" (as he's nicknamed himself) has been underachieving.