Dr. John | Locked Down

Nonesuch (2012)
By ZETH LUNDY  |  April 3, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars

dj1
The Night Tripper, circa 2012: big fat funky drums, Nuggets-psych organs, ladies in the background going "Yeah-eahh!," woozy/honking brass. "Don't matter if you Muslim, Christian, or Jew/Buddhist, Mason, Hindi, or Voodoo," Dr. John sings on "Kingdom of Izzness" — "My nuclear vision is everybody's bidness." Goddamn right it is. First and foremost, Dr. John's umpteenth album in umpteen years is big-time poised and eminently groovy — one of his best, no doubt, and arguably one of the best-sounding records so far this year. Now, at 71, the Artist Formerly Known as Mac Rebennack sounds as hip as he did when he hit the pop charts in 1972 with "Iko Iko." Locked Down was produced and co-written by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, and though there is little Keys-ness to be found (the wordless refrain of "Getaway," perhaps), the young musicians assembled at Auerbach's Nashville studio help put the proverbial voodoo tiger in the Doc's tank. Though he's no stranger to politically charged stuff (see his post-Katrina output), here Dr. John goes on the common-sense defensive. "Ain't no age of innocence, ladies and gents," he announces on "Ice Age," leading the charge with a skeptical yet sinewy backbeat. He's still got it.
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