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Mercernary

12 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 23, 2006
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Mercernary is the brand new full length studio album from Dr. John. Following on from the release of the mini album Sippiana Hericane (released to raise money for the victims of the New Orleans disaster), Mercernary is a tribute to the American songwriter and Capitol Records founder Johnny Mercer (1909 - 1976). Features cover versions of 12 of Mercer's most popular songs including 'Moon River', 'Lazy Bones' and 'That Old Black Magic' as well as an original composition by Dr. John entitled 'I Ain't No Johnny Mercer'. Parlophone.

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Though Dr. John is by no means the first musician from the rock era to take a stab at the classic American songbook, the results have rarely been as satisfying as this. While all of the material was written by, inspired by, or associated with Johnny Mercer, this is very much a Dr. John album, with Mac Rebennack and his ace New Orleans rhythm section giving selections from "You Must Have Been a Beautiful Baby" to "Moon River" a funky, Crescent City spin. With the good doctor applying piano syncopation to an instrumental expansion of "I'm an Old Cow Hand" and giving his sly, playful rasp to a jaunty "Dream" and a bluesy "Come Rain or Come Shine," this tribute not only attests to the range, craftsmanship, and enduring appeal of Mercer's all-American music, it reflects the New Orleans master's interpretive depth. --Don McLeese


Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 23, 2006)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Parlophone
  • ASIN: B000E5L88E
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,891 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By prisrob TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 28, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Dr John has done is again. He has taken the funk or "fonk " as he calls it of New 'Awlins and mixed it up with Johnny Mercer's songs, that old southern boy," that Dr John can relate to. As he says, "That's why I think of Johnny Mercer as a mercenary,"he was a hustler; he knew how to survive out there. He always wanted to write Broadway shows, but because he wasn't from New York, they wouldn't let him get in the clique. So the next best thing he could make a hustle out of doing was to go to Hollywood and write songs for movies; he had some success doing that.

Dr John fills this CD with joyfull grit. It does not in any way sound like the old regulation VFW tunes that we may have come to expect with Johnny Mercer. Each song, has been made for Mac Rebennack, Dr John's birth name. The project came to fruition from a suggestion of his daughter Tina, who pointed out that "Personality," would be a perfect fit for her dad's down-home style. In fact, Tina suggested, why not do a whole album of songs written or popularized this giant of American popular music? Dr John agreed and set his band up. That old magic came to life with each and every recording. They were so in tune that each song was done in one or two takes.

Dr John had a handful of songs in mind from the start, including "Blues in the Night," "Lazy Bones," "That Old Black Magic," "Save the Bones for Henry Jones" and "Tangerine," and each one bears no resemblance to any of the old tunes. Even "Moon River" is Dr Johns. You can savor the tune, but your feet are tapping-tapping to Moon River? Yes, suh,BK. "Dream" and "Old Cowhand" are played like you have never heard them before. Mercernary honors not only Johnny Mercer, but New Orleans. Every note played by Dr.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Soulboogiealex on May 23, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Dr John has been a reliable force in music for years. Although never renewing he has a stable quality that al lot of performers lack. His material may not be surprising you never feel cheated. The Night Tripper always delivers the goods. He may not sound as fresh as he did when he recorded Gris-Gris some thirty five years ago, he's still having fun. Something must have died inside if some of that fun doesn't rub of.

On his latest release we find the Doctor paying homage to one of the most rewarding songwriters of the American Songbook, Johnny Mercer. As the title rightly suggests this man was a Killer! This is not the Doctors' first stab at the American songbook. A few years back he successfully attempted a Duke Ellington tribute. Anyone who enjoyed that release won't be disappointed by this one.

Any attempt on the songbook by rock or pop stars are tricky endeavors. I only have to point out Rod Stewards frightful releases of recent years to prove my case. Not so with John Gumbo, he manages to put his personal stamp on each of the songs here. Mercernary is a very Funky love affair.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Naito on July 1, 2006
Format: Audio CD
This was playing in the theater before the movie I'd gone to see. As soon as I left the theater, I ran to the music store next door (sorry, Amazon) and bought the one remaining copy they had. Played it all the way home in my CD player and popped it into the bedside player later too. Really a fabulous album ... if you are a Dr. John fan, a must. But, great for the Mercer fan too ... I just returned from a trip to Savannah (where Mercer is buried) and this is truly music of the angels! The Angels Sing! And do some seriously good instrumentals too!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Adam E. Maroney on August 3, 2006
Format: Audio CD
"Mercenary" will surely go down as one of Dr. John's best efforts. The good doctor places a new spin on each of these classic Johnny Mercer tunes, making each one his own, while still staying true to Mercer. As soon as you put this disc in, there's not a bad moment! Especially good tracks are "I'm An Old Cowhand" and "Tangerine" (both instrumentals). The good doctor also adds some of his own, unique spoken (and sung) perspectives in some of the tracks (be sure to check out "Lazy Bones" to see what I'm talking about). An excellent addition to the collection of any fan of Dr. John or the fan of good music in general. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JONNY-1 NYC on April 26, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The fantastic songs of Johnny Mercer and the unique style of Dr. John, (Mac Rebbaneck") make for great renditions of American classics in the laid back style of the New Orleans sound. A must for any Dr. John or New Orleans fans.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sax Lover on July 27, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Yes, it's "funky butt" music (Earl Palmer's term for that New Orleans style that gets your backside moving, as quoted by Dr. John), but...

Compared to the good Doctor's other "fonky" releases of standards, this one falls a little short. It has some high points, but fewer than one would hope for.

Johnny Mercer wrote some of the most down-to-earth, real-life lyrics & tunes, capturing the way people act & think & talk (with a few 'huckleberry' exceptions). The Doc is to be commended for honoring such a gifted, mean-drunk artist.

Clocking in at[...] (short for a CD nowadays), and with a lot of all-too-similar vocal & arrangement treatments, this release doesn't do Mercer quite as proud as Doc did for the Duke (lots more oomph & uptempo tunes too).

Still it has its good moments, and is well worth a listen. The musicianship is laid back, but top-notch. The two instrumentals hearken back to "Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack" and "The Brightest Smile In Town," where we hear the Doc stretch out on the piano, and the two tunes with the added organ are a plus. John Fohl's guitar adds some nice touches; James Rivers plays a great tenor sax solo on "Henry Jones," plus we get some of veteran Herb Hardisty's tenor as well (wish there was more of that!).

It's cute to hear the horn riff from Huey 'Piano' Smith's "Well I'll Be John Brown" on "Save The Bones For Henry Jones;" that riff being a familiar N'Awlins take on the I-IV-V blues chord progression (for a full taste, check out "Teachin' And Preachin'" from 1952 by Dave Bartholomew [Fats Domino's manager/songwriter/trumpeter], performed by "The Royal Kings," for an early variation with some raunchy tenor sax & classic New Orleans sound).
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