Dr. John - The Sun, Moon & Herbs
Dr. John (Malcom John Rebennack Jr.) - vocal, piano, organ, vib, percussions [click here to see more vinyl featuring Dr. John]
Eric Clapton - guitar [click here to see more vinyl featuring Eric Clapton]
Tommy Ferrone (guitar); Bobby Keys (sax); Ed Hoerner, Jim Price (tp); Ken Terroade (fl); Walter Davis (p); Ronnie Barron (org); Jesse Boyce (b); John Boudreaux (dr); The Memphis Horns & backing vocals
Written by Dr. John
1 LP, gatefold sleeve, insert
Original analog Master tape : YES
Heavy Press : 180g
Record color : black
Speed : 33 RPM
Size : 12'’
Record Press : Pallas
Label : Speakers Corner
Original Label : Atco
Recording: July - October 1970 at Trident Studios, London, by Roy Baker and Dimension Recorders, Hollywood (CA), by Judd Philips
Production: Dr. John & Charles Greene
Originally released in 1971
Reissued in 2020
Side A :
- Black John The Conqueror
- Where Ya At Mule
- Craney Crow
Side B :
- Familiar Reality-Opening
- Pots On Fiyo (File Gumbo)/Who I Got To Fall On (If The Pot Get Heavy)
- Zu Zu Mamou
- Familiar Reality-Reprise
« Originally intended as a triple album, The Sun, Moon & Herbs was chopped up, whittled down and re-assembled into this single-disc release, and while Dr. John never liked this version much, perhaps the single disc is testament to the "less is more" theory. The seven cuts are all quite lengthy and the spells Dr. John and his consorts weave are dark and swampy. "Black John the Conqueror" comes from old Cajun folklore which the good Dr. has modernized and given a beat. The swampy "Craney Crow" is the younger sibling of his earlier "Walk On Guilded Splinters" and has a similar effect on the listener. "Pots on Fiyo (Fils Gumbo)" combines Latin American rhythms with lots of Cajun chants and spells. The vocals are nearly incomprehensible and actually serve as another instrument in the mix. "Zu Zu Mamou" is so thick that you can almost cut the music with a knife. Here, the atmosphere takes on a whole other meaning altogether. The Sun, Moon & Herbs is best listened to on a hot, muggy night with the sound of thunder rumbling off in the distance like jungle drums. Dr. John was definitely onto something here, but just what is left up to the listener. » AllMusic Review by James Chrispell
« t has always been difficult to accurately describe the music of Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. Known commercially as Dr. John (The Night Tripper), he forged a unique trailblazing career as a songwriter, performer, session player and cultural icon.More importantly, Rebennack channeled the multi-faceted New Orleans mystique with a daring mixture of blues, rock, jazz, boogie woogie and funk. He achieved mainstream crossover success with singles like “The Right Place” and “Such A Night”. Rebennack recorded for over three decades. His personal life (with legendary rebellious outlaw stories and innuendos) only fueled his larger-than-life persona, as did his live performances. He remained faithful to his New Orleans roots.
Speakers Corner Records has released a re-mastered 180-gram vinyl of Dr. John’s seminal album, The Sun Moon & Herbs. This album was recorded in 1970, while Rebennack was stranded in England. Originally part of a triple-disc, Dr. John assembled his own New Orleans musical posse with an all-star “Delaney & Bonnie” band reunion (Eric Clapton, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon, Bobby Keys) to create a murky, atmospheric conjuring of Storyville culture. Side One opens with “Black John The Conqueror”. Intermingled with a funky slow-hook blues piano (Walter Davis Jr.), the tale of a local shaman is expressed as a mystical testimonial with gravely lead vocals. As with many of Dr. John’s arrangements, there is a hypnotic, long repeat chorus (voiced by Whitlock and Doris Troy) that comes off like a soulful litany and scintillating horn accents. The musician’s palpable homesick musings are front and center on “Where Ya At Mule”. This ultimate longing for NOLA is expressed with shuffling second line cadences and specific imagery (“… gumbo cooker, alligator hooker…”). A key change is ear-catching before the final “There’s no place like home” refrain that will not remind any listener of The Wizard Of Oz. The swampy vibe (which permeates the record) is invoked throughout “Craney Crow”. A complex assortment of Caribbean chanting and a processional funeral march frame the weird (even by Dr. John standards) track.
Side Two is different and more cohesive. On the compelling “Familiar Reality-Opening”, a tight Memphis-soul groove is established. As Dr. John relates his “I’ve been here before” storytelling, he contributes rolling piano runs. There is an organic musical feel with a talking verse in translating the existential to anecdotal reflection. It is the most accessible ensemble cut on The Sun The Moon & Herbs. The sequencing of the songs on this side coalesces with the spirit of “Familar Reality”. “Pots On Fiyo (File Gumbo)/Who I Got To Fall On (If The Pot Gets Heavy” is an exotic Crescent City allegory (in two parts) that expresses itself with local food references (okra, sausage, oysters). The contextual eclecticism is mysterious. There are considerable jazzy inflections in Davis Jr.’s piano. Conga (Calvin “Fuzzy” Samuels”), a nimble key shift and brief free-from music lead into obscure chanting of Louisiana imagery. A closing verse in French enhances this moody tapestry. With a tuba and mournful acoustic guitar lines, “Zu Zu Mamou” is a menacing reverie that grabs the listener, and never lets go. In particular a whispering dialogue (Dr. John and Doris Troy) feeds the overall ambiance. A refreshingly brief (1:53) finale (“Familiar Reality-Reprise”) provides an explosive soul-drenched end to this flamboyant excursion.
Speakers Corner has done an outstanding job in re-mastering The Sun Moon & Herbs to 180-gram vinyl. The overall mix is crisp, but maintains the density and atmospheric murkiness. Dr. John’s evocative, gritty vocals are captured with vibrancy. The hi-gloss gatefold album packaging is top-notch. All of John John Miller’s surreal art design is a visual treat. » Robbie Gerson, Audiophile Audition
"The Sun, Moon & Herbs" was originally conceived as a triple album, but it was fragmented, stripped down and put together again to form the present single-disc LP. And although Dr. John never liked this version much, it is proof of the theory 'less is more'. None of the seven tracks are suitable for broadcasting on the radio and the spells that Dr. John and his companions weave are dark and swampy.
"Black John The Conqueror" has its origins in ancient Cajun folklore, which the good Dr. modernised and gave a beat. The swampy "Craney Crow" is the younger sibling of his earlier "Walk On Guilded Splinters" and has a similar effect on the listener. "Pots On Fiyo (Filé Gumbo)" combines Latin-American rhythms with a wealth of Cajun chants and spells. The vocals are almost unfathomable and serve rather more as an additional musical instrument in the mix. "Zu Zu Zu Mamou" is so tightly knitted that one can almost cut through the music with a knife; the mood here takes on a quite different meaning.
"The Sun, Moon & Herbs" is best heard on a hot sultry night where thunder rolls in the distance like jungle drums. Dr. John certainly had something specific in mind, but it is up to the listener to find out just what it was.
AllMusic : 3.5 / 5 , Discogs : Rate Your Music :