The album art for The Black Keys' Chulahoma

The Black Keys


Their blues origins were lost in all the hubbub about The Black Keys’ recent alt-rock records, but Chulahoma captures it in a way that none of their earlier records good. The Black Keys’ collection of Junior Kimbrough covers is both a fantastic tribute and a wonderful listen.

I’ve always considered myself a fan of The Black Keys and their old-school sensibilities of rock’n’roll. But I’d somehow never heard *Chulahoma*, recorded between *Rubber Factory* and *Magic Potion*. If that’s before your time, that’s back when The Black Keys were a great one-two blues-rock band — nothing more, and nothing less.

*Chulahoma* is a lesser-known record because, as it turns out, it doesn’t have a single original recording. Each track is a cover of a Junior Kimbrough. Kimbrough himself was a bluesman that The Black Keys called a primary influence at one point. He and The Black Keys shared a label together at one time.

The Black Keys do play these “covers” pretty fast and loose, so while they’re recognizable, they could be considerd homages more than anything. In blues, that feels appropriate: it’s more important to riff off ideas than it is to exactly represent something, and’s what The Black Keys have always been good at. If you’re a fan and you haven’t heard this record, you’ve got no clue what you’re missing.