By: Adam Harrison –
The Black Keys’ latest EP release, Tour Rehearsal Tapes, is a genuine title and features six live tracks recorded from the studio in December of 2011, before going on tour for the better part of a year.
When the introductory combination of drum and bass beats began, to the opening track “Dead and Gone,” I couldn’t help but bob my head and play air drums along with it. There is a certain rawness that made me feel like I was listening to an old CCR album on vinyl. However as the EP continued, I began to feel underwhelmed. Don’t get me wrong these are all fantastic songs and they sound good, but I’ve heard them all before and they don’t sound that much different. The Black Keys have always had that old school rawness of ‘70s blues-rock.
Is live studio album not an oxymoron? At one point, the original tracks were recorded while being played in the studio. I love a good live album, but when I think of a live recording, I think of the roaring of the crowd and the echo of the vocals throughout the stadium and the feeling I get of “man, I wish I was at that show!” That feeling is missing in Tour Rehearsal Tapes and lacking in any atmosphere at all. The album should relive that moment when 20,000 people broke out in song and dance to the opening notes of “Lonely Boy.” On the latest EP, “Lonely Boy” didn’t even live up to the original recording.
Every song on this EP is a great tune, but I would have much preferred an authentic live album from The Black Keys. Especially because none exist since the Live in Austin, TX bootleg album, which was even recorded four years before their mainstream breakthrough with Brothers in 2010.