Sunday, February 8, 2015
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: DR. JOHN - IN THE RIGHT PLACE
Two New Orleans greats team up here, the good Doctor being produced by Allen Toussaint. When you get Toussaint, you get a real musical producer; he does the arrangements as well, which gets you all the instruments choices, blends, percussive accents and background vocal additions. And there's a third element here, the band is the monster New Orleans group The Meters. Between Art Neville on organ and Toussaint himself on piano, Dr. John, a master player, barely touched the keys on the album.
This album took Dr. John away from the mysterious, voo-doo infused gris-gris sound he had pioneered in the late 60's, and back towards a more conventional, soulful sound. It was even surprisingly commercial, landing him his biggest hit, the top ten cut Right Place, Wrong Time, and another charter, Such A Night. Usually, that means a compromise was made, but really it was more a meeting of the minds and a blending of the talents. Dr. John wrote it all, and Toussaint knew how to make it funky AND ear-pleasing.
There are plenty more grand numbers than the well-loved hits; Qualified is one of those perfect Toussaint horn numbers, with a gospel funk by Dr. John. But hearing the light touch on Such A Night again, with its jazz hints and delightful piano is a great treat, especially since it is such a highlight of The Last Waltz. Delightfully pressed on a gaudy orange and green splattered vinyl, this is one of those reissues that puts the fun back in record collecting.