Dr. John – “Locked Down”
By: Jack Whittle
It’s been ten years since Dr. John’s (Malcolm Rebennack) last release Creole Moon. Dr. John is now the ripe old age of seventy one, but do not worry he’s been singing like an old man since the sixties. Dr. John teams up with Dan Auerbach (of The Black Keys) on Locked Down. Fans of The Black Keys’ album El Camino will hear where The Black Key’s got there R&B inspiration from in Dr. John’s Locked Down. Dan Auerbach takes on the roles of producer, band leader, and guitar player on. Locked Down is a heavy funk/blues/R&B album (I’m aware that R&B stands for rhythm and blues, but I consider R&B and blues different animals).
Unlike most of the Doctor’s previous work, Locked Down is very personal. Many of the songs on it are about personal experiences, among them: drug problems, being in jail, and trying to reconnect with his children. “Worrying about the rent, ain’t got a cent/Got no cash to flash/Now you ain’t got no friends/Be losin’ jobs/Start losin’ hope, using dope/Now we all hangin’ from the end of our rope.” Dr. John is much more serious and dark in this album than in most of his other work. This album does cheer up towards the end though. The track “Eleggua” is a return to the familiar Dr. John swagger. “Eleggua” is sang in some foreign language (Creole? Or maybe just gibberish…) and sounds down right dirty. This song is an ode to Eleggua, the voodoo trickster god.
Locked Down sounds THICK. There are many sounds on this album: keyboards (organs and pianos), guitars, drums, other percussive instruments, bass, multiple backing vocals and horns. The horns give Locked Down a gritty old school R&B/blues/jazz feel. The bari-sax specifically sounds thumping. Dr. John plays a lot of organ on this album, which is unusual for him (he is typically on piano) and adds an interesting more modern sound to the album. Dan Auerbach is showcased on “Getaway” with a raunchy, distorted, blues based solos.
Locked Down is true to Dr. John’s roots, while also sounding modern with Dan Auerbach’s production. The content is refreshing and different for Dr. John. Though some of the happy go lucky Dr. John swagger has been lost throughout the years, a rough and tough Dr. John is left, with his growling voice still intact.
Last 5 posts by bfinkel
- Interview with Dead Beach - April 12th, 2013
- Interview with Brownie Mountain - April 9th, 2013
- Interview with Darwin Deez - April 9th, 2013
- Interview with Erin McKeown - April 9th, 2013
- Bearded Men Burning Down the House; Phosphorescent and Strand of Oaks at the Bishop - April 9th, 2013