Dr. John

The Lost Broadcast: Ultrasonic Studios, New York 1973

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Calling this performance by Mac Rebennack and his road band a "lost broadcast" stretches the truth a bit, since it has been in circulation as a bootleg ever since its initial broadcast by Hempstead, Long Island's WLIR-FM in June 1973, and this edition even clips off a couple tunes that appear on unauthorized releases. But if this often sounds like just another night on the road for Dr. John in the early '70s, it's a pretty good night; Rebennack's piano and organ work cuts a mighty groove, as usual, and his band is properly emphatic in just the right loose-but-tight fashion, especially guitarist Sugar Bear Welch, drummer John Boudreaux, and horn men Darrell Leonard and Jerry Jummonville. The on-the-fly nature of the recording gives a good picture of the interplay between the musicians, and if these arrangements of some more ambitious material (like "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" and "Danse Kalinda Ba Boom") are more streamlined than their better-known studio incarnations, they also allow the listener to hear past the sometimes murky studio atmosphere and get a clearer impression of the root of the tunes. Rebennack's vocal affectations get just a bit hard to take by the end of the set (especially during a brief interview with one of WLIR's DJs), and whoever put this out doesn't know "Junco Partner" when they hear it, since it's called "Hard Sentence" here. (Even more remarkably, "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" is identified as "Put a Love Letter in Your Heart," and Jackie DeShannon is identified as "unknown.") But as a document of Dr. John as he was evolving from the hoodoo psychedelics of Gris-Gris to becoming the leading advocate of the New Orleans R&B tradition, The Lost Broadcast is a fine listen and will get you up off your feet and dancing in no time flat.

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