Dr. John and the Lower 911 The City That Care Forgot

Ready for a funky protest album? That is a rather rare thing, but that’s what we get from New Orleans maestro Dr. John here. As a musical elder statesman, he could easily rest on his laurels, but this doctor is angrier than Hugh Laurie’s character on House. He’s righteously fired up by the scandalous treatment of his beloved city, before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. He has assembled his key weapons — that distinctively raspy yet mellow voice, his ever-fluent keyboard playing and superb backing trio the Lower 911 — and lets fly with both passion and skill. He’s recruited some famous pals too. Eric Clapton plays on three cuts, Ani Difranco, Terence Blanchard and Terrance Simien make cameos, and Willie Nelson has a guest vocal on "Promises, Promises.” That latter song has a catchy feel but doesn’t pull any punches lyrically ("The road to the White House, paved with lies”). Nor does the title track, with such eloquent lines as "I saw the great vacant ghost of a politician’s stare in the city that care forgot.” Artfully arranged horn parts add punch to many of the songs. It’s no mean feat to produce an album that can simultaneously make you angry and tap your feet but that’s exactly what the good Doctor delivers here. (429)