Dr. John, a.k.a. Mac Rebennack, has undergone a number of incarnations in a career that spans nearly 50 years, from the acid-tinge voodoo of his Night Tripper persona to his role as one of New Orleans' most revered champions of American musical tradition. Following several outstanding albums elaborating on the basics of the blues and R&B, Mercenary stands out as yet another able accomplishment, as well as one of Dr. John's most engaging. In covering several familiar selections from composer Johnny Mercer's indelible catalogue, Rebennack has successfully redefined them in his own inimitable way. Consequently "Beautiful Baby" and "Moon River" are transformed from wistful reflections to upbeat, soulful shuffles. "Old Cow Hand" goes from novelty to nuance via a masterful jazz-infused jam. "Ol' Black Magic" and "Come Rain or Come Shine" are the epitome of sultry style, with Rebennack's trademark ragged, warbling vocals providing his own emotional connection.
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