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Dr. John - Babylon (1993) Retail CD
The follow up to Dr John's legendary and influential 'Gris-Gris' album
'Babylon' is another psyched out gumbo classic that infuses the Night Tripper's biblical tales of sin and redemption with a mixture of ragtime
N'Awlins jazz and experimental soundscapes that psych luminaries Jefferson Airplane would be proud of. That said it's a hard album to take at first sitting but reveals a depth and complexity with repeated listenings. It's just the sheer scope of the meandering arrangements that mark it as a "difficult listen" but if you persevere this is one album you will come to treasure. The esotericmore…, stream of consciousness experimental jazz recalls Van Morrison's 'Astral Weeks' with the good Doctor similarly dispensing dense poetic wisdom about life, God, politics and love with some incredible lyrical forays that erupt starkly from the subtle collage of mesmerising percussion, guitar, piano that swirls around each song to create a mist of spooky voodoo drenched wonder. With African rhythms, chants, eclectic blues and atmospheric jazz, tracks like
'Barefoot Lady' and 'Black Widow Spider' pulse with a slow groove as the Doctor's deep murmurings whisper of portents deep and mysterious making tracks like 'Twilight Zone' somewhat akin to being at some strange but compelling voodoo ritual. The nearest to a 'conventional' song is the superb 'Patriotic Flag-Waver' with its extraordinary litany of political satire - 'I Belong to the KKK and the NAACP'; 'I'm a misery radical and a propaganda collector, a woman's elector, a Castro defector' - it's truly enthralling. The album closes with the bizarre Beefheart-styled blues of 'The Lonesome Guitar Strangler' with the Doctor proclaiming how he's going to murder Hendrix and Ravi Shankar and anyone else that copies Wes Montgomery! All this as guitars weave dense minor chords in a web of strange angular mutant sputterings!
One of the Doctor's weirdest albums by far but listening to its slow grooves and atmospheric jazz flavoured voodoo experimentalism you will come to realise that as it predates Beefheart's 'Trout Mask Replica' by at least two years it is a work of a singular vision and originality that seriously casts Dr John into a whole 'nother league, that of pioneering avant jazz composer. But like its contemporary 'Astral Weeks' it's a whole lot easier and more rewarding than Beefheart's honks and splats.
If you're serious about late 60's tribal jazz or serious about Dr John then this extraordinary album deserves to be in your collection. If you're a passing fan in search of some good time stonking jazzy R'n'B and you've heard the Doctor is the nuts then pass this one by and check out
'Gumbo', 'In The Right Place', 'Desitively Bonnaroo' or later works like 'Anutha Zone'. Truly it's not for the faint hearted but become initiated into its wonders and let the Night Tripper take you on an incomparable journey and you will not regret it.
|3||Black Widow Spider|
|6||Patriotic Flag Waver|
|7||Lonesome Guitar Strangler|
- Dr. John - Babylon (1993) Retail CD
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- 15/08/09 by heebee
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