I have been reading about this album for a while now, so when I heard it was released I was really excited to pick it up on iTunes. Dr. John’s album Gris-Gris is one of the first albums I listened to on the RS150. I can clearly remember listening to it for the first time, hearing the swampy voodoo sounds that are masterfully intertwined with the melody of every track, and I remember how surprised and interested I was…and to be honest, a little turned off. But once I listened to that album a few more times, my view changed and I gained a new appreciation for Dr. John’s vision.
Locked Down is a beautiful (can I call it that?) re-activation of Dr. John’s creative, bad-ass, New Orleans grunge. What really got me excited for this album in the first place was hearing that Dan Auerbach from The Black Keys was producing the album and leading the band. In fact, Auerbach searched out Dr. John ‘The Nite Tripper’, aka Mac Rebennack, to get his funky-ass groove back in action. And it is a huge success.
The tracks on this album are phenomenal. I am not saying this lightly. I think this is one of my favourite albums to be released in a long time. Its got the voodoo essence of Gris-Gris with even more attitude and in-your-face musical stylings. The first two tracks of the album, “Locked Down” and “Revolution” set the tone for the album with layers and layers of sounds that make me feel like we are walking into a contemporary ceremony of the underworld (and who knows what’s going to happen). But the layers are perfectly mastered, with slightly-off-key choral vocals and some really heavy guitar and keys. To me, this is a historical album.
There’s some serious attitude behind the lyrics and music on this album that make it that much better, too. In the digital booklet of Locked Down, there is a short piece of writing that explains the story of this album, which is one of “tricknology”, is really about the coming together of two brothers, Mac Rebennack and Dr. John, who really is the musical persona created by Rebennack “during a parole exile in 1960s Los Angeles”. I’m not kidding when I say Dr. John is a bad-ass.
And as he says at the end of the writing:
“This is Mac and the good Doctor. Together, they are the last of the great tricknologists and stronger than they could ever be apart.
This is the sound of tricknology, children. Coming up behind you, fading no more.
And tricknology is HEAVY.”
I mean, come on! Who writes things like this anymore? Its phenomenal. The inspiration behind Dr. John is out of this world. This album has so many sounds and stories behind every track. You can keep listening over and over and hear a totally new sound. Even the album insert knows this, too! It perfectly captures all of these aspects as ”an invitation to do a dirty grind in a backroom bar at 3 AM and a call to go to church the next day; it’s a fierce burst of salvation and an apocalyptic warning; it’s a seductive come-on and an initiation; it’s candle-burning jams rubbing shoulders with ecstatic odes to the great mystery.” Seriously. And its so spot on its crazy.
Every track starts with an entrancing new riff, from the simple and strong guitar on “Ice Age” which gets complimented with some tribal drum sounds, to the heavy-key intro on “Getaway”.
If you are looking for a phenomenal album that is different than your standard rock album, check out Locked Down, pour yourself a drink, turn on the music, and let it take you on a wild ride.