Dr. John: An Anthology Focuses on His Peak Years

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The 2024 anthology from Dr. John

Like such contemporaries as Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, the late Dr. John (aka Mac Rebennack) was a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who defied categorization and ignored popular trends. His musical brew mixed in elements of the jazz, R&B and funk of his native New Orleans, but the result was his own unique concoction.

His long career, during which he released nearly three dozen studio albums, yielded many highlights. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the 2024, 26-track, Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya: Singles 1968-1974—an expanded version of a 2015 release—doesn’t overlap too heavily with the most notable other Dr. John compendium, 1993’s 39-track Mos’ Scocious: The Dr. John Anthology.

Granted, about 15 songs appear in both sets, including key tracks from 1972’s Gumbo, one of his best albums, as well as his top 10 single, 1973’s “Right Place Wrong Time,” and the sublime lesser hit, “Such a Night.”

But Anthology fits in some noteworthy material that dates from as far back as 1959 and key album tracks from throughout his career while the chronologically arranged Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya focuses on all the A- and B-sides of singles from Dr. John’s peak period.

The collection, released April 26 via Omnivore Recordings, is available in the U.S. here and in the U.K. here.

Related: Our Album Rewind of Dr. John’s Gumbo

Jeff Burger

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