Since the release of El Camino this time last year, guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Pat Carney have been busy with: a critically acclaimed and commercially successful world tour; an accompanying EP of, well, Tour Rehearsal Tapes; a collaboration with Wu Tang Clan leader – rapper RZA – on a new song and video, and they’re set to tour again in arenas at the end of the year before starting work on a new album.
The EP first. Recorded last December, Tour Rehearsal Tapes comprises of six tracks recorded ‘live’ in the studio, four from El Camino, and two from its predecessor, Brothers. It is difficult to know what to make of it: on the one hand, the songs sounds (even) rawer than their album versions, particularly Carney’s primitively effective percussion, and the song selection is largely successful. On the other, there are no new songs, and insufficient differentiation between these tracks and the album versions to make this worth buying for anyone but diehard fans, or as a cheap introduction to the band for newcomers.
The Black Keys’ collaboration with RZA, ‘The Baddest Man Alive’ forms part of a soundtrack to the film The Man with the Iron Fists which the rapper also directed, co-starred in (with Russell Crowe and Lucy Liu) and co-wrote (with Eli Roth, who produced the film with Quentin Tarantino). The band open and close the song with a characteristically rhythmic blues sound and vocals by Auerbach, which RZA joins together with a mid-section rap. The video makes out that the song are about a fight in a Chinese restaurant between Auerbach, Karney and RZA over a fortune cookie, and is mostly entertaining apart from a mysteriously misogynistic segment where RZA tears off the blouse of one of the waitresses for no particular reason. No such qualifications with the song, however; it’s superb.
Watch the video for The Black Keys/RZA:
Tour Rehearsal Tapes EP is out now as a digital release only. The Man with the Iron Fists film is released on 7 December and the soundtrack on 10 December.