Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Johnny Jenkins - Ton-Ton Macoute! (w. 'Allman Bros' Members US 1970)


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Bitrate: 256
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Ripped by: ChrisGoesRock
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Source: SHM-CD Remaster Edition.

Ton-Ton Macoute! is the 1970 album by Johnny Jenkins, a former bandleader who first hired Otis Redding in his band, The Pinetoppers, as a singer. "Ton-Ton Macoute!" was originally intended as a Duane Allman solo album, before he departed to form The Allman Brothers. Most of the guitar tracks were played by Allman, and Jenkins later supplied the vocal tracks. The album is a blend of Southern Blues/Rock/Country and Soul. Guest musicians include future Allman Brothers Duane Allman, Berry Oakley, Jaimoe, and Butch Trucks. The standout tracks are Dr. John's "I Walk on Gilded Splinters", Bob Dylan's "Down Along the Cove", and J.D. Loudermilk's "Bad News".

The phrase "Ton-Ton Macoute" is actually a phrase in Haiti, meaning "bogey man" (literally: "Uncle Bagman") in the Haitian language. "Ton-Ton Macoute" was the name Papa Doc Duvalier used for his secret police, who wreaked havoc in Haiti in 1950s. The "bogey man" of Haitian folklore refers to a man visiting during Christmas Eve, entering peoples homes at night and taking naughty children into his knapsack.


Johnny Jenkins' Ton-Ton Macoute is a fine bowl of Southern gumbo. Aided and abetted by the likes of Duane Allman (this started as an Allman solo disc, but when he formed the Allman Brothers Band, Jenkins put his vocals over the tracks best suited), Dickey Betts, and those great guys from Muscle Shoals, Jenkins cooks on such cuts as "Down Along the Cove" from the pen of Bob Dylan, and Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone." But it is Dr. John's "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" which shines here and is the one which folks will recognize as the basis for Beck's hit "Loser." On the slippery "Blind Bats & Swamp Rats" you can almost feel the heat and humidity rolling out of the bayou. This reissue also includes the mighty fine bonus cuts "I Don't Want No Woman" and "My Love Will Never Die." Great Southern funk & roll for the discerning listener. It even includes educational liner notes which tell the tale behind each cut.

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Johnny Jenkins may have had a long pause between records, but his heart, ears, and mind were always close to blues music. Jenkins never wanted to be a professional musician, and always worked day jobs, including digging wells, logging, and mechanical work. Jenkins' style is, at times, reminiscent of Elmore James, and at other times one can hear echoes of Jimi Hendrix in his guitar playing -- probably because Jenkins was a seminal influence on Hendrix.

Born in Macon, GA in 1939, Jenkins grew up in a rural area called Swift Creek. He listened to a battery-powered radio and first heard the sounds of blues and classic R&B artists like Bill Doggett, Bullmoose Jackson, and others. Jenkins built his first guitar out of a cigar box and rubber bands when he was nine, and began playing at a gas station for tips. He played it left-handed and upside down, and this practice continued after his older sister bought him a real guitar a couple of years later.

Capricorn Records founder Phil Walden first heard Jenkins on a local radio talent show in 1959. Walden began to book Jenkins' band, the Pinetoppers, which included Otis Redding on lead vocals. Redding got his first big break in 1962 when he drove Jenkins to Stax Studios in Memphis to record a follow-up to Jenkins' regional hit, "Love Twist." The producer encouraged the young Redding to take a turn at singing in the studio, and he recorded "These Arms of Mine" with some extra studio time. Redding's career began to take off and Jenkins was asked to become part of his band but he refused, ironically, because of his fear of air travel.

Johnny Jenkins - US Promo Single 1970
Following Redding's untimely demise in an plane crash, Jenkins stayed close to home, playing regionally and working day jobs to support his family. His unorthodox guitar style left lasting marks on the young, impressionable Jimi Hendrix, who came out to see Jenkins play while visiting relatives in the Macon area. Later, in 1969, Jenkins and Hendrix teamed up to play together at The Scene, a club owned by Steve Paul in New York. In 1970, Walden put Jenkins into the studio with several members of the Allman Brothers Band to record his debut album, Ton Ton Macoute, one of the fledgling Capricorn label's first releases. Although Ton Ton Macoute was finally released to high critical praise in 1972, the then-small label had other priorities to deal with, including the newly successful Allman Brothers.

Blessed Blues In 1996, Capricorn founder Walden convinced Jenkins to record a "comeback" album, Blessed Blues. He's backed by a stellar cast of musicians, including Chuck Leavell on keyboards and Muscle Shoals percussionist Mickey Buckins. Capricorn also reissued Jenkins' now-legendary Ton Ton Macoute on compact disc in 1997.

01. "I Walk on Gilded Splinters" (Dr. John) - 5:49
02. "Leaving Trunk" (Sleepy John Estes) - 4:19
03. "Blind Bats & Swamp Rats" (Jackie Avery) - 4:44
04. "Rollin' Stone" (Muddy Waters) - 5:21
05. "Sick and Tired" (Dave Bartholomew/Chris Kenner) - 4:41
06. "Down Along the Cove" (Bob Dylan) - 3:25
07. "Bad News" (J.D. Loudermilk) - 4:08
08. "Dimples" (John Lee Hooker/James Bracken) - 2:55
09. "Voodoo in You" (Jackie Avery) - 5:00
10. "I Don't Want No Woman" (Don Robey) - 2:12
11. "My Love Will Never Die" (Otis Rush) - 5:33

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3 comments:

E Craig said...

Great post!! Thanks for the work you do here.

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Great site. I heard this years ago, looking forward to seeing how well I remember it. all the best.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Chris. I've heard good things about this one.