Gris-Gris is an album that transport you to another time and place. Sure, there are lots of albums I’ve listened to on the Rolling Stone Top 500 Albums list that transported me back to the period when they were recorded. But, Gris-Gris also could be said to have transported listeners when this was released in 1968 to another place and time. Dr. John has created a world that is a mystical, psychedelic version of New Orleans which consists of a musical gumbo of African beats, jazz, Caribbean chanting, reverbed production, half-spoken/half-sung lyrics, some blues, and soul.
As soon as the sound comes out of the speakers with “Gris-Gris Gumbo Ya Ya,” the listener knows this is something very different. I wish I knew about “Danse Kalinda Ba Doom” when I was really interested in world music in the 90s. Add to this world music feel, the strange brew of “Croker Courtbullion” which features harpsichord, woodwinds, and psychedelic guitar noodling with occasional playground-like chants from the chorus. But in the midst of the otherworldly songs, there are some that seem to have some mainstream appeal such as “Jump Sturdy” and “Mama Roux” - which shares the kind of rhythmic shuffle that WAR would make a staple of their music.
Songs I Knew I Liked: None
Songs I Now Like: For me, I love this more as a whole album than particular songs driving my interest. Songs that did get me hooked include “Mama Roux”, “Danse Fambeaux”, “Croker Courtbullion”, and “I Walk On Guildied Splinters”.
Songs I Don't Want to Ever Hear Again: None in particular, but “Jump Sturdy” was definitely my least favorite track.