Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dr. John: Right Place Wrong Time

Known as the “Night Tripper,” Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, Jr. is best known for his persona of Dr. John. Rebennack began his career as a guitarist until a gunshot wound made playing the guitar a bit difficult. He then switched to bass until he transferred to his iconic instrument – the piano. Inspired by New Orleans greats Professor Longhair and Allen Toussaint, Dr. John carved out a musical niche for himself while often mixing his stage act with voodoo influenced accents ala Screaming Jay Hawkins.

Dr. John began performing in the 1950s, but had not entered into public view until nearly forty years ago. He is best known for his one hit wonder – “Right Place Wrong Time.” Although known for his keyboard work, Rebennack did not contribute much in the way of keyboards to his best selling LP “In the Right Place.”

Outside of one cut where Dr. John played piano and another where he played organ, Allan Toussaint provided the lion’s share of piano for the album and Art Neville (of the Meters and the Neville Brothers) played the organ. Outside of the vocals, Dr. John played percussion on one of the album’s eleven cuts. The album was produced by New Orleans legend Toussaint.

“In the Right Place” charted in 1973 at 24 on the Top 200 Album Chart and 28 on the R&B Album Charts. Its first of two singles, “Right Place Wrong Time” peaked at #9 and #19 respectively on the Hot 100 and the R&B charts. The follow up single, “Such a Night” only made it to #42 on the Hot 100.

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