Dr. John – The Sun, Moon & Herbs

More Dr. John

xxxxx

  • Superb sound throughout with both sides earning solid Double Plus (A++) grades or BETTER for sound
  • Forget whatever lifeless, pointless Heavy Vinyl record they’re making these days – if you want to hear the Tubey Magic, size and energy of this wonderful album from 1971, a vintage pressing like this one is the only way to go
  • “The seven cuts are all quite lengthy and the spells Dr. John and his consorts weave are dark and swampy… 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.”

This vintage Atco pressing has the kind of Tubey Magical Midrange that modern records can barely 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.

What amazing sides such as these 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 1971
  • 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 Listen For on The Sun, Moon & Herbs

  • 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.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Black John The Conqueror
Where Ya At Mule
Mule

Side Two

Familiar Reality-Opening
Pot On Fiyo
Zu Zu Mamou
Familiar Reality-Reprise

AMG  Review

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.

Leave a Reply