- Dr. John’s Gumbo is back, now with outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound from first note to last – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
- Full, lively, and solid, this copy has just the right sound for this collection of quintessential New Orleans Rhythm and Blues tracks
- The superbly talented Keith Olsen engineered – just one year later he would record Buckingham-Nicks, and two years after that Fleetwood Mac
- 4 1/2 Stars: “Dr. John’s Gumbo bridged the gap between post-hippie rock and early rock & roll, blues, and R&B… that sly fusion of styles makes Dr. John’s Gumbo one of Dr. John’s finest albums.”
You may have read this commentary in our other Dr. John listing, the one for In The Right Place. The two recordings — and therefore the Hot Stamper pressings made from them — share much in common, so we’ve more or less copies the listing for that album into this one. What’s good about one is good about the other, and vice-versa.
Tubey Magic Is Key
This original Yellow Label Atco pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records cannot even BEGIN to reproduce. Folks, that sound is gone and it sure isn’t showing signs of coming back. If you love hearing INTO a recording, actually being able to “see” the performers, and feeling as if you are sitting in the studio with the band, this is the record for you. It’s what vintage all analog recordings are known for — this sound.
If you exclusively play modern repressings of vintage recordings, I can say without fear of contradiction that you have never heard this kind of sound on vinyl. Old records have it — not often, and certainly not always — but maybe one out of a hundred new records do, and those are some pretty long odds.
The sound is BIG and BOLD with a punchy bottom end, but like almost every copy out there it has a bit of grit and grain at times — Same Old Same Old on side one is never going to be smooth and sweet, for example.
What the best sides of this killer Bayou Funk album have to offer is not hard to hear:
- The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
- The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1973
- Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down low
- Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
- Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.
What We’re Listening For on Dr. John’s Gumbo
- Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
- Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
- The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
- Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
- Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
- Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
- Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.
Dr. John – guitar, piano, cornet, vocals
Lee Allen – tenor saxophone
Ronnie Barron – organ, piano, backing vocals
Harold Battiste – clarinet, saxophone, horn arrangements
Morris Bechamin – saxophone, backing vocals
Jimmy Calhoun – bass
Sidney George – harmonica, saxophone
Shirley Goodman, Tammy Lann, Robbie Montgomery, Jessica Smith – backing vocals
Ken Klimak – guitar
Dave Lastie – saxophone
Melvin Lastie – trumpet, cornet
John Ewing – trombone
Alvin Robinson – guitar, backing vocals
Fred Staehle – drums, percussion
Richard Washington – percussion
Blow Wind Blow
Somebody Changed The Lock
Let The Good Times Roll
Those Lonely Lonely Nights
Huey Smith Medley: High Blood Pressure, Don’t You Just Know It, Well I’ll Be John Brown
Little Liza Jane
AMG 4 1/2 Star Review
Dr. John’s Gumbo bridged the gap between post-hippie rock and early rock & roll, blues, and R&B, offering a selection of classic New Orleans R&B, including “Tipitina” and “Junko Partner,” updated with a gritty, funky beat. There aren’t as many psychedelic flourishes as there were on his first two albums, but the ones that are present enhance his sweeping vision of American roots music. And that sly fusion of styles makes Dr. John’s Gumbo one of Dr. John’s finest albums.