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Black Key Dan Auerbach is catalyst for stellar set of tracks by New Orleans legend
Roisin Dwyer, 17 May 2012
Mac Rebennack’s 26th studio album sees The Night Tripper join forces with Black Key Dan Auerbach. Proving himself the Dr.’s gris-gris, Auerbach has reinvigorated the food doctor. The result? Doctor John’s most potent set of songs in close to four decades and his finest album since 1973’s In The Right Place. Fittingly he sports a voodoo headdress similar to the type he donned in that era on the cover of the album.
Myriad elements are interwoven in a vital melange of funk, blues, rock and afrobeat. Auerbach’s production rejuvenates: for example, his decision to move the Dr. from piano to farfisa proves ingenious, at once injecting a freshness into the music but also effectively moving the veteran out of his comfort zone.
The artistic preoccupations remain the same: the brutish nature of the modern world, the burden of the disenfranchised, life’s injustices and religion as a redemptive force. As with all of the New Orleanian’s output (and confirmed in the liner notes) this is the work of two people, Mac Rebennack and Dr. John, and thus is essentially dualistic in its appeal.
One creates the insistent driving blues of ‘Revolution’, the sleazy R&B of ‘Big Shot’ and the funky street smarts of ‘Ice Age’. The other explores the more spiritual territory of ‘Eleggua’ (a deity of Yoruba mythology), expresses a benevolent concern for future generations in ‘My Children, My Angels’ and crafts the traditional religious sentiments of ‘God’s Sure Good’.
Jekyll or Hyde – we wouldn’t have him any other way. Magical.