Read Along With Me / Smell the Gumbo

Last Sunday I took a trip back to my home town to celebrate my 30th birthday.  While I was there I picked up a number of records and ordered a few more that should arrive in the next few weeks.  I’ll save those for a future post.

These first three discs were found at the local public market / community garage sale.  Each is a book and record, two from 1976 and one from 1980.  They’ll be fun additions to my children’s LP collection.

Superman Book & Record (1976)

Star Trek Book & Record (1976)
Return of the King Book & Record (1980)
The third pic is a storybook record of Disney’s animated film, Return of the King.  It will sit nicely beside my other two Tolkein LPs.

Rankin / Bass' The Hobbit LP (1977)
Rankin/Bass’ The Hobbit (1977)

Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings (1978)

Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings (1978)

While I was in town I visited all my favorite record shops.  In the first I went digging for Dr. John records missing from my collection.

Dr. John’s earliest recordings were far more experimental than the Cajun/Zydeco sound he’s best known for.  His first record, Gris Gris was an unparalleled exercise in gritty bayou voodoo – pure psychedelic gumbo blues with funky Afro-Caribbean drumming.

Dr. John - Gris Gris (1968)
According to the liner notes on Gris Gris, the band consisted of “Dr. Poo Pah Doo of Destine Tambourine and Dr. Ditmus of Conga, Dr. Boudreaux of Funky Knuckle Skins and Dr. Battiste of Scorpio in Bass Clef, Dr. McLean of Mandolin Comp. School, Dr. Mann of Bottleneck Learning, Dr. Bolden of The Immortal Flute Fleet, The Baron of Ronyards, Dido, China, Goncy O’Leary, Shirley Marie Laveaux, Dr. Durden, Governor Plas Johnson, Senator Bob West Bowing, Croaker Jean Freunx, Sister Stephanie and St. Theresa, John Gumbo, Cecilia La Favorite, Karla Le Jean who were all dreged up from The Rigolets by the Zombie of the Second Line. Under the eight visions of Professor Longhair reincannted the charts of now.”

Can you smell the gumbo?

The first Dr John album I spotted in the shop was a compilation of cutting room floor material released without his consent.  One of at least six unauthorized Dr John albums each named Zu Zu Man (this one on Trip records), it is rumored that other singer’s vocals were substituted for his own on some of the tracks.  The fantastic cover pic implies that these are Gris Gris era tunes, but after a quick sampling you can instantly tell they’re from much later on.  I decided to pass on Zu Zu man and kept looking.

Dr John - Zu Zu Man (Trip Records 1989)

Here’s another of the many Zu Zu man album covers…

Dr. John - Zu Zu Man (Thunderbolt 1989)
Then I found a disc that I had seen there a year earlier, and it was still in the same spot!  I later learned it had been placed on hold three times but was never picked up, so it was my lucky day.

Dr. John, the Night Tripper - Remedies (1970)
Remedies was Dr. John’s third full length album, and is often overlooked.  While side A isn’t particularly impressive, the second side is an obscure treat for fans of the first record.  “Angola Anthem” (a song about the Louisiana State Penitentiary) fills side B at 17:35 long.  If you’ve never heard early Dr. John, don’t listen to “Angola Anthem” until you’ve fully digested Gris Gris and the darker portions of Sun Moon & Herbs.

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