Wednesday, January 9, 2013

4. Dr. John Locked Down

Dr. John - Locked Down

The sounds of birds and wolves along with rattling chains begin to swell in the speakers followed by a riff on a standup bass, followed guitar and drums, Fender Rhodes organ and a piano.  The piano sounds timeless and at the same time, so familiar and distinct, it could only be one man.  This year marked the release of another album by THE voice of N’Awlins boogie woogie piano.  Of course I’m speaking of Dr. John.

Dr. John’s newest album, Locked Down, features The Black Keys guitarist and singer Dan Auerbach at the control panel producing the album as well as taking up the guitar duties.  This is classic Dr. John, the vocals sound as though they belong to a much younger man than the 70+ Night Tripper delivering them.  The record is bluesy and fun, while completely dripping with New Orleans and all that the culture of one of America’s most history rich cities can muster. 

One thing is apparent from the first listen, is that while the musicians selected to play on this record are top notch, they all had to bring their A+ game in order to keep up.  There are a few highlights to the album, though, while this is not a concept album, it plays like one, keeping the vibe of the album through the entire album.  The opening title track features Auerbach’s most recognizable guitar work and gets the entire album on an upbeat tempo.  Walking bass lines present in the second and third track bring you to the next gem of the album, the percussion driven Ice Age. Some of Dr. John’s most pronounced electric piano work is present here along with a guitar riff that is reminiscent of 80’s pop group Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians.  The third gem on this album, and the one that pushed it to the top of the pile for me is the organ driven Kingdom of Izznes.  There is nothing I can say about this track that will it do justice, so dear reader, just pick it up and listen to it. 

Again, this review is written about the vinyl version of this album.  This LP was pressed on Nonsuch records, which is home to artists who think about their vinyl release first.  This one is pressed on 180 gram black vinyl as a single LP.  It includes an insert featuring Dr. John and Dan Auerbach in the studio as well as the lyrics for the album.  It does not include an mp3 copy of the album, however, the entire album is included as a cd as well so that it can be played in car stereos or ripped to mp3’s easily for use on portable system. 

There is so much more that could be said about this album, but it would just bias your opinion and there is so much music out there that needs to be both discovered and enjoyed without causing too much hype. This is one of those albums.  It’s great, but this is one you must sit with for a while and ease into. 

Get it, you won’t be sorry.  Happy listening.

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