Review: Dan Auerbach Wants to ‘Tell Everybody’ About Juke Joint Blues on this Powerful Compilation

Various Artists
Tell Everybody!:21st Century Juke Joint Blues from Easy Eye Sound
(Easy Eye Sounds)
4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Videos by American Songwriter

Any fan of The Black Keys or their frontman/songwriter/label-owning guitarist Dan Auerbach knows how much he loves and, more importantly, supports blues music.

The Akron, Ohio band emerged as a stripped-down, garage/blues rocking duo with roots in the deep Southern, laconically raw attack of Junior Kimbrough, R.L. Burnside, Mississippi Fred McDowell, and others. As recently as 2021, the Keys released an album covering those and other artists. Auerbach has also signed and/or recorded music from acts such as Robert Finley, Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, and Leo Welch, and his Easy Eye imprint was even named Billboard’s Blues Label of the Year for 2022.  

So it comes as little surprise that he compiles this dozen-song set of tough, uncompromising, and gutsy blues for his imprint. These are new or previously unreleased recordings, many joining younger artists who have been influenced by, and continue the tradition of, the older musicians Auerbach clearly loves. The ambiance vibrates with the swamp-infested, tense, and terse riff-based sound creating a mood far more portentous and intense than what many consider blues rock.

Some lesser-knowns provide the heaviest tracks. Glenn Schwartz doesn’t seem like a name that would fit into the grouping, but he along with buddy Joe Walsh and Auerbach (yep, three guitars) grind out “Daughter of Zion” an audacious, ragged new tune that could easily be a Burnside cover and pummels like a collaboration of Cream and ZZ Top at their darkest. Holmes checks in with a stark cover of the classic “Catfish Blues” (some may know it from Hendrix’s version), singing I’m broke/Broke and hungry /I’m dirty /Dirty and raggly too / But if I clean up / Can I go home, can I go home…with you as bass, drums and Auerbach dole out a subtle repeated lick.

Oldster RL Boyce kicks off with the creeping “Coal Black Mattie,” setting the ominous, hill country tone for the next forty minutes. Other names like the younger Gabe Carter (“Anything You Need” and “Buffalo Road”) are just as obscure but deliver the mosquito-infested goods with the same sense of electrified, backwoods dread as old timers like Finley on the disc’s title track. The Black Keys even donate a rarity/new tune in the thumping “No Lovin’” returning them to their roots with a slow boil sizzler that has Auerbach ripping a solo as dangerous and unhinged as anything from the classic rustic bluesmen he idolizes.

This is a powerful, insistent collection of generally unknown artists laying down a murky groove that few contemporary artists get right. Credit producer/auteur Auerbach, who understands, appreciates, and is inspired by the music these non-commercial artists make and uses his capacity as a high-profile star to share it with the world.  

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/Getty Images for iHeartRadio

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