Dr John: Locked Down

The mighty Mac on top form, produced by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach.

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Some artists manage to transcend the whole cycle of retro, roots and nostalgia to which many much younger than Mac Rebennack, aka Dr John, have succumbed.

Active since the late 1950s and never more pulsating than right now, Dr John sits outside of the rock’n’roll time frame. Locked Down, a wonderful ferment of barroom R&B, mean-intentioned funk and the overall, abiding sweet stench of the old school Good South – all brilliantly ringmastered as ever by the good Doctor – is as relevant and fresh-baked as anything in 2012. Orleans is always New.

Recorded in Nashville, Locked Down benefits from the younger players brought in by producer Auerbach. They bring to the likes of Revolution a limber vitality and rhythmic unpredictability which means that these songs never settle into a staid or predictable groove, while the instrumentation always feels freshly tailored and cut, rather than mouldy or vintage store second hand.

This is an album open to the shock of the new; take the giddy, psychedelic broadsides that buffet Getaway, for example. But it’s Dr John who provides the pedigree, the assuring, avuncular, deep-throated narratives, on the Howlin’ Wolf-ish Ice Age or the concluding God’s Sure Good.

This sure is, believe that much.

David Stubbs

David Stubbs is a music, film, TV and football journalist. He has written for The Guardian, NME, The Wire and Uncut, and has written books on Jimi Hendrix, Eminem, Electronic Music and the footballer Charlie Nicholas.