Photo Credit: Jim Herrington
I can think of only one band that can make the same album over and over again and still somehow make their audience boogie to it: AC/DC. The Australian wildings and this blues rock band from Ohio, formed in 2001 by Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, have one more thing in common: they’re impossible to review. If you liked their previous work – which means you like big-sounding blues-rock that brings back the sounds of the dangerous ‘70s polished with 21st-century studio equipment – you will probably like Dropout Boogie as well. If not, you’re probably not even aware of the fact that the Black Keys are still around.
The song “Wild Child” is a crowd-pleasing attempt on a new “Lonely Boy” and although it doesn’t quite hit the mark, it remains one of the highlights on Dropout Boogie. The following “It Ain’t Over” slows the tempo down a little, but the album recovers with the stomping “For the Love of Money” and a few tracks later with “Good Love”, where Dan and Patrick are joined by Billy F Gibbons, the legendary guitarist from ZZ Top. Billy’s muscular boogie sound and melodic concision that once impressed even the mighty Jimi Hendrix while opening for him in Texas in 1968 remains intact, and his playing on “Good Love” will go down in guitar history as one of his finest moments.
After this monolithic performance, the Black Keys struggle to retain the momentum, and if you’re wondering why “Baby I’m Coming Home” sounds so good you should do your boogie rock homework and check out “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers Band. Writing credits to Gregg Allman would seem fair. “Didn’t I Love You” – the longest song on the record, breaking the four-minute mark with one second – fades the record out rather than ending it with a big bang.
A lot has changed since the Allman’s dominated the album-oriented rock airwaves together with groups such as ZZ Top, Little Feat, and Grand Funk Railroad. The hard-living life of sex, drugs, and rock & roll died out with a lethal fusion of pills and whiskey decades ago, and to capture this spirit in 2022 seems impossible. Dropout Boogie sometimes loses its steam and it never sounds dangerous enough, but it’s a good attempt at boogie rock and it will probably please everyone not afraid of being accused of reactionism.