Dr. John – Anutha Zone (1998)

Posted by on July 23, 2017as


Dr. John has spent so much time turning out perfectly enjoyable but interchangeable records that it may be easy to forget the spooky voodoo vibes of his earliest, arguably best, records. He may have forgotten it himself, too, but there was a whole generation of British musicians, from Modfather Paul Weller to Spaceman Jason Pierce to the teenaged punks in Supergrass, who remembered the haunted vibe lurking in Gumbo and Gris-Gris. Citing his name in interviews, covering his songs, and enlisting him as a session musician (Mr. Rebennack played on Spiritualized’s acclaimed 1997 album, Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space), they created a buzz around Dr. John and were more than willing to play on Anutha Zone, hopefully generating some sales for him in return. As should be expected from any project that is a marketer’s dream, the collaborations occasionally seem awkward, but what is surprising is how often it works. Pierce helps Rebennack conjure the psychedelic R&B of his earlier albums, while Weller and Supergrass help keep things cooking; furthermore, members of Primal Scream and Portishead help make “Sweet Home New Orleans” a titanic workout. The Brits aren’t as funky as the classic New Orleans musicians, but they are willing to push Dr. John into his best work in years. Anutha Zone isn’t a perfect album by any means, but it’s Rebennack’s most ambitious and rewarding album in many a year.

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