DR. JOHN: Revolution

ALL MUSIC GUIDE: In the late ’50s, Mac Rebennack gained prominence in the New Orleans R&B scene as a session keyboardist and guitarist, contributing to records by Professor Longhair, Frankie Ford, and Joe Tex. He also recorded some overlooked singles of his own, and by the ’60s had expanded into production and arranging. After a gun accident damaged his hand in the early ’60s, he gave up the guitar to concentrate on keyboards exclusively. Skirting trouble with the law and drugs, he left the increasingly unwelcome environs of New Orleans in the mid-’60s for Los Angeles, where he found session work with the help of fellow New Orleans expatriate Harold Battiste. Rebennack renamed himself Dr. John, The Night Tripper when he recorded his first album, Gris-Gris. According to legend, this was hurriedly cut with leftover studio time from a Sonny & Cher session, but it never sounded hastily conceived. In fact, its mix of New Orleans R&B with voodoo sounds and a tinge of psychedelia was downright enthralling, and may have resulted in his greatest album. MORE

NPR: Dr. John’s latest album, Locked Down, was produced by Dan Auerbach, the guitarist and singer for The Black Keys. As Auerbach told NPR earlier this year, he wanted to coax something autobiographical from the revered New Orleans singer, who has built his career on inhabiting a very specific persona. “I wanted to surround him with younger guys. To test him a bit,” Auerbach said. “I also wanted him to talk from the Mac Rebennack perspective, lyrically. I didn’t want him to talk from the Dr. John perspective.” MORE

MAGNET: Auerbach has been busy beavering away behind the board as of late. He produced Locked Down, the new album by the New Orleans legend Dr. John, AKA Mac Rebennack, which is due out in April. The collaboration came about largely as a result of Auerbach showing up at Rebennack’s home in N’awlins vowing to help him make “the best record you have made in a long time.” Upon consulting with his grandchildren, who told him the Black Keys were cool, Dr. John agreed. “It’s amazing,” Auerbach says of the album. MORE