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The Big Come Up
Format: Audio CDChange
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Showing 1-10 of 22 reviews(4 star)show all reviews
62 of 66 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2005
Take a big chunk of blues rock, throw it in a sack with some Cream-era Eric Clapton, a bit of Jimi Hendrix, a pinch of Stevie Ray Vaughn and a hint of Creedence. Shake vigorously, deep fry until extra-crunchy.

Akron, Ohio duo The Black Keys followed just this recipe for their minimalist debut album, with results that are nothing short of amazing.

Guitarist/vocalist Dan Auerbach's fingers canter up and down blues scales with ease, and his fuzz dial is obviously set to "11". His sandpapery pipes sound as if he's guzzled whisky and puffed filterless Camels for far longer than his 20-some-odd years would allow. This guy has no business be able to sing like this.

Auerbach is perfectly complemented by Patrick Carney's enthusiastic pounding of the skins, which is never, ever relegated to just providing a background beat. As producer, Carney is also largely to thank for the Keys's distinctive gritty bootleg sound that sounds as if you're spinning a dusty 45 unearthed in the back of some record shop.

The pair come barreling out of the gate with the very first track, "Busted", an energetic number that immediately gives notice to listeners that this band is about scorching, unapologetic blues.

From there, they move into the down-and dirty "Do the Rump" and on to the slightly Creedence-ish "I'll Be Your Man." A few tracks later is another straight-up blues song, "Run Me Down", which leads into "Leavin' Trunk", an incredible song that sounds like it could have been an undiscovered Cream gem. Then it's into the ultra-fuzzed out "Heavy Soul". Their cover of The Beatles' "She Said She Said" is nothing short of amazing. It is the perfect cover -- reimagining a classic while remaining true to its heart and soul.

The album wraps up with "Brooklyn Bound", another masterful blues rock number that sounds like something you only hear on classic radio stations at like 2:00 a.m. Actually this is technically the second-to-last song, but the real last song, "240 Years Before Your Time" is just 4 minutes of slow, dreamy electric guitar noodling followed by 20 minutes of silence. I hate these kind of filler tracks, and thankfully it's a mistake the Keys didn't repeat in their next two albums.

There are several songs I didn't mention, but not because they are in any way bad. Indeed, there's not a shoddy number on the album (except the last pseudo-song"). You definitely get your money's worth with these tunes. The Black Keys are definitely one of the most significant recent music finds for this die-hard blues and classic rock fan. I thought they didn't make music like this any more. I'm glad I was wrong.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on February 28, 2005
OK, I'm biased. I dig the hell out of this group and bemoan the fact I live in coastal carolina, as I'll probably never get the chance to see them play live. This was the first thing I picked up by them and I ain't looked back! These dudes got the blues! Yeah! As far as these kindsa things go- what you're lookin at here: it leans on the bluesy side of things.

Compared to their later CDs (they're averaging about one per year and they just get better n better!), the sound on this is pretty straightforward and untinkered with- the fairly lo-fi style of production and recording really suits them nice. Compared to their 2nd release, the guitar has less chunky distortion, and more squawky clean tone, well-controlled. The post-production isn't as deep as later stuff. More skeletal sound. Now then, if you're a hardcore blues aficionado, you may wonder what the fuss is all about. This isn't Live on Maxwell Street, nor is it J.B. Hutto. It's pretty much invigorated, stripped down blues rock, done damn well. More precision, less chaos. Not 5 stars, but definitely 4. Each song sounds distinctive, which makes this standout against a lot of other recent dirty-blues/garage-rock fare.

Some of the reviewers have complained about the obvious recycling of blues/early rock motifs... the riffs and lyrical content. Samples: "you ain't gonna run. me down. anymore..." "try to make you mine..." "I'll be your man..." "won't you come around..." "Hey darlin, let's do the rump..." "Hey, hey, hey, I still love you so..." "Hey, can't you see me cryin..." ...Lot's of hey this and hey that. So they ain't reinventing the wheel. Well, to my mind, that's kind of the point. I wasn't expecting these guys to be Mallarme or Rimbaud. The lyrics aren't there to change your perspective on life, just to cling to and reinforce the over-all blues aesthetic. Dan Auerbach does some of the best white boy blues singin and hollerin I've heard in some time. The man's got some great mimetic skill. Patrick Carney locks into place and does what good backup men always do- provide an environment for the leader to showcase his abilities. These guys really click. The solos are skeletal and effusive, again- I like 'em! Not so blazing out of control, as tight and angular. So, don't expect Jimi or Stevie Ray or Albert King to be channeled.

Stand out Tracks: "The Breaks" (great tune, great lick, just kills me every time). "Them Eyes" (possibly my fave: the most unabashedly rock n roll, the bridge chords are a simple but timeless garage-rock assault- the song then segues into some even-paced and soulful crooning wit a change of mic. LOVE this one!!). "Heavy Soul" (it's got that opening riff that damn near everyone and their grandma has copped a bit, from Hound Dog Taylor to The White Stripes) "I'll Be Your Man" (sounds very haunted and CCR ((at least to these ears))- that's a good thing, it's got that early Fogerty swagger, that marching beat, "Yearnin" also rocks a similar approach)

My only beef: Not enough tracks. And they're too short. That's actually probably a good thing. and "240 Years" stops about 1.5 minutes into it and has 20+ minutes of dead silence before some stuff comes back in.

Great all-purpose music. Recommended! For writing, dish-washing, lifting, running, long-distance driving, anything really!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 5, 2010
Imagine your typical, musically proficient guitarist/drummer combo being locked away in a dimly lit basement with only a pot of black coffee and 30 or so tattered old blues records for company. Although it's safe to assume such creative processes stand far away from the real story behind the Big Come Up, it's still pretty difficult to overlook the obvious influences present. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Savoy Brown - you name it and it's probably here in some form or another. Even the gritty, simplistic production job applied to the work contained within grabs the listener's attention in a certain visceral way that no perfectly polished contemporary album ever could. Perhaps that's the real allure here - an unabashedly retro experience to be had amidst a sea of releases by other bands currently up to their ears in auto-tuned, overproduced commercial schlock.

Take any number of those artists out for a listen, then be taken aback by the unapologetic imperfections found here in tracks like "Do the Rump", which sounds as if it might be missing a few notes off the main riff each time it comes back around. Not to mention all the songs included on the album stay short and sweet, averaging under 3 minutes a piece - just long enough for a quick fix before moving on to the next number. The boys even throw in a couple of mildly experimental quirks here and there, with "The Breaks" featuring a voice sample at the beginning instructing all of us to "lean forward...and listen with a sparkle in your eye, as though you might be thinking 'Gee - this is the most wonderful thing I ever heard in all my life'," which is immediately cut short by a blistering guitar crunch that might just jerk your eyes wide open exactly as described. Elsewhere, the traditional "Leavin' Trunk" proves to be a definite highlight amongst the batch, somehow managing to keep fresh the tried and true 12 bar blues format after decades of ritual use and abuse by countless others. In essence, that's what the entire Black Keys catalog thus far is all about, adapting the blues to its newest, most modern facet with all the fuzz and fervor of the genre's classic era.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2005
When I went to put the CD in my player I saw the picture of these guys, took another look at the CD to make sure I got the right one, then looked at the picture again. I shrugged and put the CD in carousel and hit play.

After about thirty seconds I got up, checked the case again, and stopped the CD to make sure it was playing the right one.

Their picture so doesn't match their sound - much less that there's only two of them. The album is filled with rich, gritty, raw, guitar-riff and scratchy vocal blues.

Some reviewers complained that they are charlatans, or that you're better off buying the original blues masters. Well, lots of artists can trace their roots to the masters (raise your hand if you think all of Led Zepplin's stuff is original).

My advice is to buy both, the original classics and some of the new ones like this album. It certainly was quite a nice surprise to hear this disc - like finding a lost classic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2012
This is just my opinion. BK equals Fuzzy guitar with very very catchy intro riffs...but that's it. After the first verse and the chorus you would feel like something is definitely missing. These are 30 second songs with intro, verse and chorus repeated 4 times to make a 2-3 minute long song. It always feels like something is missing. My perfect description of the BK sound is Hendrix warming up for 2 minutes and then he fell asleep with a mix of CCR kinda type of intro licks but more fuzzy that quite never made it to the lead guitar part and the refrain part. I like my sludge blues/mississippi blues to have at least some lead guitar parts. They do have some leads but they often sound more of an adlib to the intro or verse riff. Maybe it's just me unable to appreciate change. One thing good BK always makes sure that they lay down some really nice and sludgy/thick grooves which for me will be a perfect groove to do some extended emotional, blistering, and melodic leads. .but there's none. Maybe a formula they are following or maybe they just need a real lead guitar player. Listen to CCR's Pagan Baby or Suzy Q for some quick example and to understand what I am saying. The singing part is a perfect fit for their sound. Still 3.5 t0 4 stars for honoring great music before them.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
This is an excellent disc. For those White Stripes fans out there, the Black Keys-White Stripes debate is not worth getting worked up over. The Black Keys are a much different band. And seriously, if you want the low-fi, raw blues sound, you should be listening to the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. (Yes, music like this was recorded before 1999.) The Keys or the Stripes are good places to start, but check out JSBX and hear where this low-fi, raw sound really became modernized.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2009
Great raw punchy Blues and R&B cuts. Old school recording style only enhances the sound these guys create. As far as I know nobody is recording stuff like this other than the Black Keys today. They have turned back the clock magically and will probably convert a new generation of blues fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2005
The Black Keys are my favorite band that is still together and making new albums regularly. One of my good friends turned me on to them when we were recommending music to each other. I recommended Ten Years After, and he told me to check out the black keys. Thanks John!

These guys from Akron (just a quick jog from here in Cleveland) are adding to the blues. The people that say they rip off the classic blues guys are dead wrong. The Black Keys don't try to be Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson or even groups like Cream. They are playing their own blues. All of their songs are fresh, interesting and exciting. Don't take my 4 stars as a slight, I just reserve the ranking of 5 for the best of the best.

The only thing I have against this disc is the 20 odd minutes of silence after the last track, which artifically increases the official album length. It's not a big deal though, overall a great album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on August 11, 2010
A good solid early album by the Keys infused with dirty blues and gritty rock.
The grooves are all there so whats there to dislike?
Get it only if you like raw blues/rock.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on December 15, 2010
This is some of my favorite Black Keys material. Great take on Blues Garage Rock. Just another album in their big list of great albums.
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