Tox Tunes #81: Junko Partner (Dr. John)

April 20, 2014, 11:39 am

This is a great version of the blues standard from Dr. John‘s 1972 album Gumbo. The song has been covered by everyone from Professor Longhair to The Clash.

The liner notes call this song “the anthem of the dopers, the whores, the pimps, the cons”:

Lee Allenwails on this one, how many tenor choruses does he have, four? I love it! The song was first made popular by James Wayne’s hit on the “Sittin’ In” (Bob Shad’s) label. But it was a New Orleans classic; the anthem of the dopers, the whores, the pimps, the cons. It was a song they sang in Angola, the state prison farms and the rhythm was even known as the “jailbird beat”. Dudes used to come back with all different verses. The hard-core dopers couldn’t wait to hit the streets after their release so they could score again:

“Six months ain’t no sentence
One year ain’t no time
They got boys there in Angola
Doing nine to ninety-nine”

Meaning they had no intention of reforming even before beginning their sentence. It’a a song all New Orleans bands had to play; kind of a Calypso-oriented rhythm with a Cajun dialect. I heard it first on Poppa Stoppa’s radio show… Louis Jordan covered it later on, and he did an even heavier Calypso thing with it. The great thing on this record is our drummer Freddie Staehle’s laidback second-line drumming. This is classic New Orleans second line style where the drummer plays relaxed licks all around the beat, but with perfect time. You could call it “melody drums.”

[Liner notes from last.fm’s barewires journal]

 

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