Indies And The Underground

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Review: Dr. John Finds A New Cool With "Locked Down"

When you’re a legendary artist, things can get skewed. The early stuff that made your career in the first place is what people want to hear, and very rarely, do people want to stay engaged to whatever new music someone is working on when they come to town. Most people want the hits, the stuff they know. But, sometimes a legend can wind up in a situation that reinvents his career, and a whole new onset of folks get to appreciate the music that they might have once turned their nose up at, but now, are digging through the crates to seek out the original pressings of.

When Rick Rubin worked with Johnny Cash, they created a whole new Cash; a starker, honest, and more raw folk hero was born in the flames of a washed out 80’s career as the 60’s/70’s hey day was long in the rearview mirror. The American Series took a country legend, but pop culture afterthought, and made him ten times cooler based on his willingness to go beyond the pale of idiotic management soaked publicity driven bullshit. Jack White had the same effect with his “Van Leer Rose” record with Loretta Lynn, and Robert Plant also managed to find a new cool when he ditched the “I’m in Led Zeppelin” attitude and hooked up with Allison Kraus.

The newest member of this club is the New Orleans hoodoo man Dr. John, and on his new record “Locked Down” things are coming back old. Working with atomically hot Dan Auerbach from the Black Ke

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ys, the record is Grammy winning material. Gone are the lame keyboards or pianos, Dr. John is back in his rawest element; sitting at an organ and filling the air with a coalesce of magical swamp funk, and images of a city that is steeped in sin.

No computers, or new fangled bullshit. Just liquored, and smoked up tunes that’s the catechism of the street whores, and the city they serve. The record is beautiful, smoky, hazy, dirty, and wonderful. A grandly painted portrait of decay, but romantically murky as the songs ooze off the turntable and into the ether, “Locked Down” is a statement.

The record has a sincere sense of rebirth that only a man such as Dan Auerbach could have brought about. There are no sad throwbacks to a time passed where someone is so desperate to hold onto the straws of a career long passed, and it’s obvious the Black Keys frontman wanted to create a feeling, an idea of championing the original, soul-soaked sounds that the good doctor has been stirring up for over four decades now. Reinvention is a beautiful thing, and it’s all been caught on analog tape.

“Revolution” is classic Mac, with his cemetery dance, and gin laced voice as he croaks out each line as a fire breather in the circus. “Locked Down” the albums title track is no slouch, right from the get go, it lets you know this is not a recessitated corpse being dug up in a cash grab, or to get off the country fair circuit; it’s a moment of musical magic. “Kingdome of Izzyness” is a lazy, deathbed growl of a song. It creeps in like a Louisiana fog through the streets of the Treme on an Autumn night, funky and dangerous if you aren’t watching your back on those back streets.

There will be no dirt thrown on the grave of Dr. John anytime soon. He’s been reborn in true New Orleans style, and let us pray, and chant to the heavens that this is only the beginning of the grand noise we’re about to hear from the voice of the 3rd Ward, ya’ll.


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