The Black Keys – Delta Kream
The Black Keys are back, Back, BACK! The arena playing, garage blues rock duo has returned with an album reworking songs by their blues heroes such as Junior Kimbrough and R.L Burnside. Their earliest recordings were covers by the same artists so this is very much a bit of travelling full circle. It’s an exercise in paying back and paying respect combined to their heroes.
Do The Romp, included on this set, was on their first recording (as Do The Rump). Their original recording is a rough, lo-fi production, but authentic and setting out their manifesto – junk bar blues rock in its purest form. The new version may sound more polished but that spirit of being true to their muse is still clearly there.
The full circle theme continues in the running order - John Lee Hooker’s Crawling Kingsnake opens and closes the album, it’s slide guitar taking centre stage. Unlike their last few polished rock albums, this is swampy, spacious, expansive, languid, less soulful - this is very much back to their roots. It’s an album a musician like Eric Clapton would kill to make but can’t.
Delta Kream is full of long, strung out, even psychedelic, guitar breaks, which is no bad thing and suitable as I play it on a grey miserable Saturday afternoon. It’s not quite the Mississippi Delta here in south east London though.
Going Down South and Mellow Peaches are cool, with superb organ playing by Ray Jacildo (side man to the marvellous JD MacPherson), especially the latter track’s jabbing riffs and its Doorsy groove. On Going Down South, Auerbach sings in a haunting falsetto, a change from his usual bluesy howl.
Poor Boy A Long Way From Home and Cool Black Mattie are the standouts for me, both strutting blues rockers, especially Poor Boy’s duelling guitar riff off.
Well worth checking out, but don’t expect the commercial vibe of Let’s Rock or El Camino.