1968 Dr John – Gris-Gris

Gris-Gris  is the debut album by Dr John (Mac Rebennack). Produced by Harold Battiste, it was released on Atco Records in 1968. The musical style of Gris-Gris is a hybrid of New Orleans rhythm and blues and psychedelic rock. Despite the New Orleans style, it was recorded in California, albeit with several native New Orleans musicians.

Gris-Gris failed to chart in the United Kingdom and the United States. It was re-issued on compact disc decades later and received much greater praise from modern critics, including being listed at #143 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Before recording the album, Rebennack was an experienced New Orleans R&B and rock musician playing as a session musician, songwriter, and producer in New Orleans. Due to drug problems and the law, Rebennack moved to Los Angeles in 1965, joining a group of New Orleans session musicians. Rebennack survived by playing with various pop and rock recording sessions, receiving much of this work with the help of New Orleanian arranger Harold Battiste.

Rebennack desired to make an album that combined the various strains of New Orleans music behind a front man called Dr. John, after a black man named Dr. John Montaine, who claimed to be an African potentate. Rebennack chose this name after hearing about Montaine from his sister, and feeling a “spiritual kinship” with him. Rebennack originally wanted New Orleans singer Ronnie Barron to front the band as the Dr. John character, but Don Costa, who managed Barron at the time, advised him against it, claiming it to be a bad career move. Rebennack took on the Dr. John stage name himself.

Gris-Gris was recorded at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles, California. With an album due and no singer prepared, Dr. John managed to book studio time originally reserved for Sonny & Cher

Tracks

1  Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya (Dr John) 05:38
2  Danse Kalinda Ba Doom (Dr John; Harold Battiste) 03:46
3  Mama Roux (Dr John; Jessie Hill) 03:00
4  Danse Fambeaux (Dr John) 04:57
5  Croker Courtbullion (Harold Battiste) 06:01
6  Jump Sturdy (Dr John) 02:23
7  I Walk On Guilded Splinters (Dr John) 07:39

Media

Musicians

BassBob West
BassHarold Battiste
DrumsJohn Boudreaux
GuitarSteve Mann
GuitarErnest McLean
BanjoSteve Mann
MandolinErnest McLean
KeyboardsMac Rebennack
ClarinetHarold Battiste
FluteLonnie Boulden
SaxPlas Johnson
CongasMo Pedido
PercussionRichard Washington
PercussionMac Rebennack
PercussionHarold Battiste
Background VocalsDave Dixon
Background VocalsJessie Hill
Background VocalsRonnie Barron
Background VocalsJoni Jonz
Background VocalsPrince Ella Johnson
Background VocalsShirley Goodman
Background VocalsSonny Ray Durden
Background VocalsTami Lynn
VocalsMac Rebennack

Liner Notes

Producer – Harold Battiste
Arranged By – Harold Battiste

Design – Marvin Israel
Photography By – Raphael

Pressed By – Monarch Record Mfg. Co.
Mastered At – Longwear Plating