When you consider the biggest and best bands of the last 60 years, a lot of the biggest names boil down to very effective cover bands or magpies of their craft. Led Zeppelin famously barely had an original idea in their arsenal but just executed what they did with perfection. The Rolling Stones have at times also been short on completely original material (surely and uncomfortable irony to Richard Ashcroft). Then in a different genre, it’s a miracle Daft Punk made any money at all when you consider what their opuses are built out of (paired with scant and intermittent touring schedules).
There are echoes of other recognisable tracks throughout this album that The Black Keys augment to create their new tracks. Intentional or not it develops a familiarity from the first listen.
To identify a couple, Under the Gun has the driving opening riff of Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love and Sit Around and Miss You has more than a passing resemblance to Stuck in the Middle With You by Steelers Wheel in the rhythm guitar. Like their forebears, this magpie approach to music creation comes down to execution and here the execution is excellent.
With a title like “Let’s Rock” this approach is maybe to be expected. It’s a canny move to pull on the elements that define the ever evolving but similarly timeless elements of Rock and Roll, then put your own spin and modern production on it to drive a complete, new piece. It seems also that “Let’s Rock” is using the show-parlance phrase as opposed to the words themselves as the title so there is a loaded intent in doing so.
Coming off the back of the increasingly commercial El Camino and Turn Blue. They have maintained that widely acceptable palate but dial it back to their musical roots and history to being a rich pile of tracks that will equally have singles at the latest indie night but similarly keep your parents or grandparents happy at a dinner party.
(Originally published 9 July 2019)