The Black Keys – “The Big Come Up”

The_Black_Keys_-_The_Big_Come_UpTHE BLACK KEYS – The Big Come Up (Alive ’02): I don’t say this often, but if you’re going to own this Akron, Ohio duo’s debut, buy it on vinyl. That’s not because it sounds better or “warmer” or any other superficial reason to fork over cash for a record. It’s because the vinyl features three alternate versions superior to the CD: a heavier “Heavy Soul,” a more earning “Yearnin’,” and a reworking of the Beatles’ “She Said, She Said,” not to mention a cover of the Stooges’ “No Fun”—the last a vinyl exclusive—all good in their own right. The first half of this album is everything a great bluesy guitar ‘n’ drums garage band’s debut should be—gritty and sloppy, all raw energy, a handful of covers (“Do the Rump” and R.L. Burnside’s “Skinny Woman,” retitled as “Busted”) indistinguishable from originals to the uninitiated (“She Said, She Said” aside) because they’re halfway there to forming their own sound. That sound, of course, derives hard from Delta legend Junior Kimbrough, but unlike scene contemporaries such as, say, the Strokes, the Kimbrough influence is more inspiration than imitation. But the second half is uneven. Apart from those alternate versions, the last few tunes sputter the album to a close. On vinyl, though, they sputter to a close much quicker—because the CD has a “hidden track” that’s 21 goddamn minutes. A MINUS

Related:

The Black Keys – Turn Blue (Nonesuch ’14): LEMON

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