One Track Mind: Dr. John with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, "Revolution" (2012)

Share this:

Deeply wounded by the way his hometown drowned in the wake of Katrina, Dr. John has spent the last few years railing against The Man. But he’s never sounded so focused, so full of both piss and vinegar. And, more importantly, the New Orleans native hasn’t shoveled out a groove this deep in ages.

Credit the expected — but, in this case, perfectly attenuated — retro thump provided by Dan Auerbach and some confederates from the Black Keys touring band, as they construct a shuddering rockabilly nightmare beat behind him, then add a salacious mid-century sax honk. Amid this almost violently funky new context, Dr. John’s gravel-gargled exhortations to the fight the powers that be — “Did we lose our constitution? Leaders on their back … stone confusion!” — suddenly come alive, like the crackle of improvised jazz riffs.

He hasn’t sounded so in the moment, so present, in a very long time. In fact, for an artist whose first established musical persona was built on half-lit gris-gris spookiness, what you’re struck by most as “Revolution” spins is its sheer force, its heart-splashing power.

[CHECK IT OUT: Stream “Revolution,” the first track from ‘Locked Down,’ Dr. John’s forthcoming collaboration with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.]

That said, the song isn’t all never-tiring propulsion, in the style of Auerbach’s most recent Black Keys project. “Revolution” stalls out for a moment at its mid point, wheezing down into a stark and chilling silence, and it provides Dr. John with something approximating absolution — a moment of peace. Of course, like the calm before the storm, it’s doesn’t last long. Soon Dr. John growls: “Let’s all just pray on it, right now,” and and then becomes engulfed in a first-take Farfisa solo that whisks the song right back into a carnival of ass-shaking get down. There’s a risk and a chaos to “Revolution,” something that makes you draw instinctively closer.

As the song ends, you get the sense that Dr. John has been suddenly stirred back to life by the roaring sounds around him. Locked Down, the full-length collaboration with Auerbach — due on April 3 — simply can’t get here fast enough.

[amazon_enhanced asin=”B0074EIQUG” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B0000033IE” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B005URRCUY” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B001ET083A” container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /] [amazon_enhanced asin=”B00122S688″ container=”” container_class=”” price=”All” background_color=”FFFFFF” link_color=”000000″ text_color=”0000FF” /]

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
Share this:
Close