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The Black Keys | Hard Row (Fat Possum)
Two tracks lifted from the current album, 'Thickfreakness', plus the previously unreleased Evil make up this CD single from the Akron, Ohia duo Dan Auerbach (vocals, guitar) and Patrick Carney (drums). It's evident that Auerbach's local record store was a blues specialist stuck in time somewhere around 1970, and the posters on his wall were of Hendrix and John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Maybe he smuggled in some early ZZ Top vinyl and heard some Black Crowes in a local bar from time to time. It's equally likely that he's not a subscriber to 'Tape Op' or 'Audiophile' magazines, such is the Black Keys gritty, in-the-red production. Set You Free (appropriately enough) sounds like Rodgers, Kossof and Co recorded in rehearsal in some town hall, all reverb and bluster, while Evil has that Shame, Shame, Shame shuffle going on, sounding like Stevie Ray Vaughan jamming in Alexis Korner's heavenly new joint with Brian Jones-era Stones. In short, this is an introductory dip into the funky white boy blues of The Black Keys.

Matt Dornan
June-July 2003