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Monday, September 20, 2010

Black Country Communion album review

Black Country Communion debut album review
Released through: J&R Adventures. Release date: September 21st.

OK, so here we go, yet another supergroup is on parade and while I guess many were a little under-whelmed at what say Chickenfoot provided, I think this line up with perhaps some slightly lesser known names to some of you, isn’t bad at all. It does take a few listens though, as it changes track here and there.

Boasting bassist / lead vocalist Glenn Hughes (Ex-Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Hughes / Thrall, Trapeze, etc) and then powerhouse drummer, Jason Bonham who like his father John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), has made quite the name for himself – although some may wonder, when is he going to sit tight?! – with the Led Zep reunion shows, Foreigner, UFO, Airrace, his own band Bonham and various stints where he’s played alongside Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page (Solo), to name just a couple ...

Then there’s the slightly lesser known – to many perhaps – rocking blues guitarist / lead vocalist Joe Bonamassa, although why beats me as this guy is much, much more than just talented. He’s seriously something else, I mean he’s even got his own label that in fact this album is released on and that he’s released ten of his solo albums on. That alone should speak volumes!
If you don’t know of him, seriously, you need to learn about him, what a talent and class act!
Side note: Go here -

He started playing aged twelve, performing with B.B. King, how’s that for an entrance?! I’ve been shouting this guys praises here and there for a few years now, since we caught him opening for Bad Company about five years or so back.
He can seriously rip it up and he has a great voice too, not unlike Paul Rodgers to be honest.

Derek Sherinian (Keyboards) rounds things off here and he’s toured with Alice Cooper and Kiss, before he joined prog rockers Dream Theater for three albums. He chose a solo path in 1999 and has since released six albums, with such luminaries as Billy Idol, Steve Lukather, Slash, Zakk Wylde and Al DiMeola guesting on his albums to give you an idea of the mans pedigree.

So here’s the thing you wonder, what kind of a sound do these guys conjure up? Put simply, it’s incredible, if varied and throughout Hughes and Bonamassa share lead vocal duties.

They open with the thundering, yes, thundering ‘Black Country’ which is led by Hughes’ powerful bass run – You have to hear this!!! – then Bonham starts playing the ride cymbal and then wham! They’re in your face!
When I first heard this, I thought to myself, where on earth will Derek Sherinian fit in, but he certainly does make his mark, very clearly throughout the album.

‘One Last Soul’ is the band’s lead single – Which is strange, as you can download it for free at their site! – and it’s great, you’ll be singing the chorus for sure in no time. It kind of reminds me of something that ‘Hughes / Thrall’ could’ve released, yet edgier. I really love it!

The moody track, ‘The Great Divide’ follows next and while having a heavy intro and heavier moment in places, it’s soulful and bluesy too.

‘Down Again’ starts with a hard rockin’ blues riff, before changing things here there in an almost funky style, with Glenn Hughes throwing out some of his off the wall vocals.
I guess his voice is an acquired taste to many, I think he’s got incredible range that never ceases to amaze. Some serious guitar work in here too of course, with big Hammond organ work as well!

If you thought ‘Down Again’ was an interesting one, wait until you hear ‘Beggarman’ which starts with almost Hendrix like intro from Joe Bonamassa and then the song almost gets into a vibe like ‘Burn’ / ‘Stormbringer’ era Deep Purple which of course Hughes was a big part of.
Again Bonamassa’s licks really shine through once more, ably backed by great work from the other guys.

‘Song of Yesterday’ is classic Joe Bonamassa and you can hear how he sounds so close to Paul Rodgers at times. Not only is he a phenomenal talent on guitar but a class vocalist too. This track really gives Joe a chance to let rip, with the track clocking in at just over eight and half minutes! A seriously epic track!

With a funky underlying riff at the start, ‘No Time’ is next and it’s a strange harmony vocal in places, with Hughes taking the main lead then the song really picks up and rocks, plenty of tight changes in the song too. It then goes into this mystical orchestral piece mid way through to throw you again, but then the band is right back in to rock it out and wrap it up! Clever!

‘Medusa’ is a seven minute variety show again, with a slow almost Pink Floyd like start, then it’s a heavy dark blues riff into the chorus, which continues on through the next verse and it’s almost Black Sabbath like for a while before easing back into that Floyd like tone then dark again to close the track …. Heavy prog like vibe for sure with some strong Hughes vocals on this one.

The album seems to lose a little momentum around here over the latter track and this next one, ‘The Revolution in Me.’ Starting with a steady blues riff it then goes into a Rush like bridge, where it picks up the tempo before getting back into the heavy blues riff. A Bonamassa sung track.
‘Stand at the Burning Tree’ is one where both Hughes and Bonamassa sound like they are singing off one another here, which works with a slow to mid paced track, switching up and down here and there. Derek Sherinian gets a chance to take a solo spot briefly mid way, then Bonamassa comes back in then they are playing off each other. It’s another blues meets prog direction number which is a lot of this album, but then the next track ‘Sista Jane’ starts with an AC/DC like riff just to throw me again!
The verse of this number is a more lightly played piece, then the bridge to the chorus picks things up again and the chorus is seriously, very close to a certain AC/DC riff … I’m not going any further on that one!

Closer is yet another epic at almost eleven and a half minutes long. ‘Too late For the Sun’ starts as a slow blues number but it just seems to build and build, again it sounds like they share the lead vocals throughout the verses then on the chorus they sing a dual lead harmony.
It’s a track where the entire band gets their little flourishes in and that includes Bonham too!

Overall then, a very clever album blending blues and prog rock, with certainly some catchy melodic rock overtones, but as I said it is a grower that takes a few listens and maybe you need to be in the mood for this one too. Certainly classy playing though.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5
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