Tom Robinson : top 10 favourite albums : number 3 : 1968 DR JOHN – Gris Gris

I first encountered John Peel in 1967 as a late night voice emanating from the ship MV Galaxy in his Perfumed Garden show on the pirate station Radio London and, after writing to him for a while, got to meet him during one of his breaks on shore leave in London. He was a hesitant, unknown and cripplingly shy 27 year old on the graveyard shift was playing an extraordinary selection of music at an extraordinary time of musical explosion. Donovan’s Sunny Goodge Street, Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit, John’s Children’s Desdemona, The Doors’ Light My Fire (and When The Music’s Over). When the pirate stations were abolished, John moved to Auntie’s new pop station Radio 1 – which is where, a year later, I heard him play the strangest record of all: Gris Gris by Doctor John The Night Tripper. The AM atmospherics on the radio combined with this strange shuffling gumbo, its voodoo overtones and spookily menacing female backing vocals to make chilling, thrilling rivetingly surreal listening. It was an album I had to own and soon did. I wrote to Peel to ask what it was, he wrote back and told me where to get it – he bought all his records from a specialist shop called One Stop in South Moulton Street. It was, and remains, quite unlike any other album ever made.

For number 4 in Tom Robinson’s top 10 favourite albums please go here

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