Review by: Tom Caswell
Photo: Bruce Weber
I haven’t heard an album packed full of so much groove and style in a while, this is something special. I’m not the biggest listener of Dr. John but ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat… The Spirit of Satch‘ got me hooked from the very start. Dedicated to one of Dr. John’s main influences, Louis Armstrong, ‘Ske-Dat-De-Dat‘ is nothing but a joy to listen to from the second it starts to the second it ends.
The opening track, ‘What A Wonderful World‘, is obviously one of Louis Armstrong’s signature tracks and it’s often hard to imagine another artist perform a version that stands up to the original. But Dr. John does right from the a-cappella intro. Not only is it a great way to open the song but it’s perfect as an album opener. It’s followed by a funky as hell version of ‘Mack The Knife‘ which doesn’t fail to get you moving. Compared to the Louis Armstrong version of this song, which is laid back and smooth, this is the complete opposite yet it still contains the same level of energy. ‘Tight Like This‘ is another great example of how different Dr. John makes the song, but in a good way.
‘I’ve Got The World On A String‘ is, in my opinion anyway, one of the highlights of the album. That groove is just incredible and the talented Bonnie Raitt joins Dr. John on guest vocals. She’s a great singer in her own right but supported by a such a fantastic swinging rhythm section just adds to the overall style of this album. Wonderful! ‘Gut Bucket Blues‘ is in the same vein and oozes pure class!
The second half of the album is just as good as the first, I don’t want to get in to a song by song review. You just need to hear it to understand how good this album is. Although, I will say that ‘Dippermouth Blues‘ is absolutely incredible, especially if you have big speakers to listen to it through. It’s a huge sounding song with a lot going on. ‘Sweet Hunk Of Trash‘ adds a bit of reggae to the mix as well in terms of rhythm. Dr. John is joined by Shemekia Copeland on this track. In fact there are a number of guest players and singers on this album including a host of top trumpet players, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band from New Orleans, Anthony Hamilton and Terence Blanchard to name just a few. Each of them add their own flavour to an already delicious album.
In my eyes there just isn’t anything negative about this album at all. The whole thing is just wonderful, mixing a wide range of genres together including jazz, funk and New Orleans blues among others. I really can’t fault it one bit. What I love in particular is the different styles this album contains whilst staying true to the original versions by Armstrong. The musicianship is second to none as well. It truly is a spectacular album that I’ve already had on repeat a good number of times. I don’t see that changing any time soon.
If you’re a lover of New Orleans blues and jazz then you really need this album. In fact if you’re a lover of music in general, you really need this album. It’s a masterpiece.
What A Wonderful World
Mack The Knife
Tight Like This
I’ve Got The World On A String
Gut Bucket Blues
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
That’s My Home
Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen
Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams
Sweet Hunk O’Trash
Memories Of You
When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You)