Dr. John “Locked Down” Nonesuch Records
The Night Tripper is back and is he back with his latest full length Locked Down in this ripe musical year of 2012. Living legend and voodoo funk, soul and blues specialist Dr. John has come back this year with a brand new record, containing some of the best New Orleans deep swamp music to come out in decades. Locked Down is a set that hits on cylinders modern artists are still scratching their heads to achieve. Production, writing and performance comes from guitarist and singer of The Black Keys Dan Auerbach and the record is one interesting ride because of it. The world already knew how much soul and blues The Black Keys could bring to the table, especially with Dan’s guitar work. His work with Dr. John is even more raw and authentic and how could one expect anything less with Dr. John involved.
One interesting aspect to Locked Down is how much it reflects the soup of sound Dr. John was getting out with his first records and the cover couldn’t be more reflective of this homage to the foundations Dr. John brought to the world. The production is cleaner than those first records, but that essence of the past New Orleans music scene is all over the LP, never leaving the past foundations of what has made Dr. John one of the most recognizable voices in music. The lyrics are really political and raise a lot of questions to the listener, pushing the albums identity well beyond a musical cultural statement and one that examines societies current standards of morality.
Beginning with the self titled song ‘Locked Down’, a marvelous stand up bass and slick funky drum track give way to some beautiful organ, guitar and vocal work. The track leaves no time to get right into that special Night Tripper groove with the organ as big as anything else in the mix. The slide guitar solo is worth every second and lets you know Dr. John won’t be the only in the house who will leave an impression. The leading single off the record, ‘Revolution’ moves in right away with really powerful sax and shows the lyrical presence Dr. John has with his music. Dr. John cuts loose on the organ in the ending section as the track sounds like a Mulatu Astatke Ethiopian funk track. It’s unreal how deep the sax lines sound with Dr. John singing his heart out at the prospects and analysis of his perception on the final solution humanity needs to change.
The track ‘Ice Age’ is one of the most interesting pieces on the album, with a Nigerian afro-rock sound that is drenched in that gumbo pot New Orleans world Dr. John is considered the man for. Addressing some really controversial subjects, this is the type of revolutionary approach to cosmic soul music that has made Dr. John untouchable. ‘Kingdom of Izzness’ is one of the most heading nodding inducing pieces on the album, one with that deep voodoo funk Miles Davis was getting into during the mid 70′s. Dr. John puts his characteristic poetic spin on things and adds really stylistic organ to the heavy rhythm. Dr. John proclaims, “The World is Lost” as his band grooves flawlessly over one of the best Dr. John songs I have heard in years. The guitar is sublime in this track, cutting between division lines that deal with as much delta blues and modern rock as it does the New Orleans soul of the album. It is these small relationships that flourish everywhere in Locked Down and make it one of the most personal and exciting albums of the year.
- Locked Down
- Big Shot
- Ice Age
- Kingdom of Izzness
- You Lie
- My Children, My Angels
- God’s Sure Good