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Dr. John & the Lower 911

Dr. John's Tribal serves up guest-heavy gumbo ya-ya.
Lisa Houlgrave
Dr. John's Tribal serves up guest-heavy gumbo ya-ya.

With yet another unnatural disaster welling in the Gulf of Mexico and virtually knocking on New Orleans's door, that city's avenging angel gets ready once again to combat the forces of greed and technology, armed only with the ageless power of voodoo, the blues and his own sly wit and wisdom. Unlike most tributes to the victims of Hurricane Katrina, which tended to be somber and maudlin, Dr. John's 2008 CD City That Care Forgot was a fiery, funky dance party that celebrated the Crescent City's musical heritage and indomitable spirit just as much as it ruthlessly eviscerated the government "caretakers" who let the city d(r)own. Of course, the prescient Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. has been sensing danger ever since his 1959 instrumental "Storm Warning." He's been through a lot of strange changes over the years, from his work as a Hollywood session musician and his garishly theatrical Night Tripper persona in the late 1960s to his mainstream funk-pop success with 1973's hit single "Right Place Wrong Time" and his multifarious collaborations with the late Doc Pomus, the Neville Brothers, Rickie Lee Jones, the Meters, the Rolling Stones, Carly Simon and, a few weeks ago on late-night TV, the Roots. His brand-new album, Tribal, revels in several of his trademark styles, including the swampy strut of "Feel Good Music," bittersweet soul blues of "Lissen at Our Prayer" and the freewheeling jazz of "Music Came."

 
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