Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Dr. JOHN - Medical School, The Early Sessions Of Mac 1999

Dr. JOHN - Medical School, The Early Sessions Of Mac 1999


Dr. John's early work as a producer, sessionman, and songwriter for Ace Records is legendary, not only among fans of Mac Rebennack but among devotees of New Orleans R&B. Unfortunately, there was no easy way to hear this material until Music Club's 1999 release, Medical School: The Early Sessions of Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack. Clocking in at 18 tracks, the disc isn't complete, but it is definitive -- all the best-known cuts are here, along with a generous selection of little-known gems. To anyone but scholars and aficionados, most of the names on the compilation will not be familiar (The Ends, Al Reed, Ronnie & the Delinquents, Sugar Boy Crawford, Bobby Hebb, among others), and many of these cuts have never been well-circulated, or even released, but that's what makes the compilation so special. Not only are these lost classics from Dr. John, but these are lost gems from the prime period of New Orleans R&B. And this is not hyperbole -- listening to Medical School, it's hard not to escape the feeling that almost every song is a hit you've never heard or have forgotten about. The instrumentals are not weak, the novelties (such as "Morgus the Magnificent") are fun, and cuts like "It Ain't No Use," "Bad Neighborhood," "You Don't Leave Me No Choice," and "Keeps Dragging Me On" are simply fantastic, sounding for all the world like classics, not throwaways. And that's the reason why Medical School isn't simply a necessary addition to Dr. John's catalog -- it's an essential addition to any New Orleans R&B library.
By Stephen Thomas Erlewine, AMG.
The story goes like this. Before he was Dr. John the Night Tripper he was Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr. - a Third Ward kid growing up in the rich musical climate of New Orleans. His life revolved around music from the beginning: he had several aunts and uncles who played boogie woogie piano at home, and his father owned a record store, serviced juke boxes and repaired sound systems in local clubs. Young Mac loved to accompany his father on these calls -- he would sit outside and absorb the R&B music for hours. At the age of seven he started guitar lessons from Fats Domino's guitarist, and there was no turning back. When Mac was a teenager he picked up some session work at Cosimo Matassa's studio, dropped out of high school and in 1957 joined the Ace staff full time as a producer, songwriter and musician. These Ace years were ITALICS Medical School END ITALICS for the gris-gris doctor, where he honed his songwriting skills and learned how to make records. Rebennack had a hand in each of the 18 cuts presented here, whether as songwriter, musician or producer. His vocals are discernible on one track only, "Row Row My Boat" - but it is a very cool track, indeed. They are all cool - who can't dig the New Orleans funkified R&B? I have to agree with the man at Louie's Juke Joint on Decatur Steet who recommended this album to me: "It is essential." Highlights: Rebennack's Bo Diddley rhythm on "Storm Warning," Chuck Carbo's smooth vocals on "You Don't Leave Me No Choice," The End's "It Ain't No Use," "Bad Neighborhood" by Ronnie & The Delinquents, "Morgus the Magnificent" by Morgus & the Three Ghouls (only in New Orleans!), "Down the Road" by Roland Stone.
By Kathryn D. Hobgood.
**Jimmy Donley, Mac Rebennack, Bobby Hebb, Chuck Carbo, Ronnie & the Delinquents,Al Reed, Roland Stone, Big Boy Myles, Sugar Boy Crawford.**
01. Storm Warning 3:15
02. It Ain't No Use  1:53
03. Bad Neighborhood 1:44
04. Sahara 2:18
05. Two Time Loser 2:16
06. I Cried 2:07
07. Down the Road 2:28
08. Feedbag 2:24
09. You Don't Leave Me No Choice 2:44
10. Morgus the Magnificent 2:23
11. Lonely Boy  2:25
12. Keeps Dragging Me On 2:28
13. Feels So Good (Just Like I Should) 2:02
14. Row Row Row Your Boat  2:17
15. Remember Me 2:16
16. Good Times 2:35
17. She Wants to Be True 2:29
18. Bordertown 2:34 

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