Dr. John, the undoubtable Mac Rebennack, is releasing a fantastic new album today, a stellar addition to his discography, produced with great care and talent by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach. Here’s a free version of the first single, “Revolution”:
The release gives me a great excuse to highlight a couple of projects I worked on with the good Doctor involved with in the late 1980s. The chance to work with one of the rhythm & blues greats was really a career highlight. In both cases Mac’s participation because one of his record producers was Ed Levine, a colleague at my ad agency Fred/Alan in New York.
My favorite was probably the set of animated IDs we did for an obscure television station in St. Cloud, Minnesota in 1988. TV Heaven was a local version of what Fred/Alan had done with Nick-at-Nite on a national basis, where we made an overnight hit station from an obscure UHF transmitter in the sticks. Mac came into the recording studio planning on recording one track for us, and ended up improvising six melodies on the spot during our scheduled time. I don’t remember the writer for this one, but I think I like it the most:
"Some people go from dollars to donuts, but I’ll take pennies from heaven. TV Heaven 41."
The animations you see here were done after the style of the legendary Fred Mogubgub, and directed by Fred in New York, Marv Newland and International Rocketship in Vancouver, and Marc Karzen in New York.
You can get the entire TV Heaven story here at Fred/Alan’s archive.
Ed probably thought about Mac for TV Heaven because he’d already had a big hit when he asked Dr. John to play the annual Fred/Alan holiday party the previous December (invitation above). We took over a belly dancing club on a second floor on 8th Avenue in New York, and for one night transformed it into a soul food juke joint. With Dr. John presiding, natch. The whole story’s here.