Our Music Year No. 57: The Black Keys, ‘The Big Come Up’

By From page B5 | February 26, 2013

Artist: The Black Keys
Title: “The Big Come Up”
Year: 2002
Format: Digital (Spotify)
Grade: B

That The Black Keys have graduated from clubs to arenas in the decade since “The Big Come Up” remains a surprise to me, mostly because the idea of anyone becoming successful playing the blues in 2012 calls to mind the atrocity of Blueshammer from the film “Ghost World.”

The defining difference between the fictitious Blueshammer and The Black Keys is that the Keys don’t claim to be anyone other than who they are.

It all started with “The Big Come Up,” a bundle of dirty blues clocking in at just more than 30 minutes once the 20-minute gap for the secret song is excised.

There are some Keys classics in the bunch, too, with “I’ll Be Your Man,” “The Breaks” and an R.L. Burnside cover retitled “Busted” remaining as part of the band’s modern live act.

There are other covers here, including Junior Kimbrough’s “Do the Rump,” McKinley Morganfield’s “Run Me Down” and, perhaps most surprisingly, The Beatles’ “She Said, She Said.” The Keys treat them all as their own, with a tone that maintains throughout the record.

It doesn’t match “Brothers” or “Rubber Factory,” but “Big Come Up” stands as a strong selection in The Black Keys’ catalog.

Our Music Year is Daily Republic popular culture writer Nick DeCicco’s yearlong online review in 2012 of albums he had previously not listened to. The reviews will appear in print on their corresponding days during 2013. Reach him at 427-6966 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.

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