Thursday, March 18, 2010

RC Blog Review of Joe Bonamassa's "Black Rock"

On Tuesday (March 23), blues/rock virtuoso Joe Bonamassa will release his 10th solo studio album, all since 2000.  RC Blog received a pre-release copy late last week and has given it a thorough listen (about 15 times...).

At each 32, with more than 20 years of professional experience, Bonamassa has created perhaps his finest, and most mature, work of art.  The new album, Black Rock, was recorded at Black Rock Studios in Santorini, Greece in 2009 and features an ecletic 13-track collection of originals and covers and he wields a wide range of sounds from Zeppelin-like riffs to slow ballads. 

He rejoins his fantastic studio and touring band of the past few years, featuring Rick Melick (keyboards), Carmine Rojas (bass), and Anton Fig and Bogie Bowles (drums), and Kevin "The Caveman" Shirley returns to produce his fourth JB studio album.  The combination of a maturing master of his craft, along with a tight band, innovative producer, local Greek musicians, and relaxing studio atmosphere and you have what should be JB's first Grammy-nominated album.  Joe's vocals on this album are, by far, the best of any of his recordings.  His weight loss over the past few years, coupled with the right blend of red wine at night, has put his voice in the zone.

Here is the album lineup by track (preview samples available at Amazon):

1. Steal Your Heart Away (Bobby Parker)
2. I Know A Place (John Hiatt)
3. When The Fire Hits The Sea (J. Bonamassa)
4. Quarryman's Lament (J. Bonamassa)
5. Spanish Boots (Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart, and Ron Wood)
6. Bird On A Wire (Leonard Cohen)
7. Three Times A Fool (Otis Rush)
8. Night Life (Willie Nelson, Walter Breeland, and Paul Buskirk)
9. Wandering Earth (J. Bonamassa)
10. Look Over Yonders Wall (James Clark)
11. Athens to Athens (J. Bonamassa)
12. Blue and Evil (J. Bonamassa)
13. Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind (Blind Boy Fuller)

As usual, JB picked the perfect song to start it off -- "Steal Your Heart Away", which begins with a hard classic JB guitar riff and then launches into a more traditional blues sway.  His cover of The Jeff Beck Band's "Spanish Boots" is a step above the original version sung in 1969 by Rod Stewart.  The first single released from the album, "Blue and Evil", has a number of guitar phrases where you would swear you were listening to Zeppelin in the day.

Listening to "Look Over Yonders", one can definitely hear a distinctive Clapton/Cream sound.  I only wish Cream would have grabbed this song in the '60s.  My daughters' favorite is the last track "Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind". While listening, one can envision this one-take track getting laid down on tape the day before they packed up their belongings in Greece and headed home.  This is "Relaxed Joe" sitting back strumming the acoustic and singing while the band sips their beverages and feels the beat. It is a perfect and unique ending to a must-have album.

For me, the climax of the album is JB's cover of Leonard Cohen's "Bird On A Wire".  The song begins with a soft saxophone intro that blends into JB's acoustic guitar playing and soulful voice.  Sounds like some of the local Greek musicians are playing a variety of instruments in the background as well.  Very cool song and captures the best of JB.

One can not review this album without acknowledging the duet blues fans have been seeking for decades -- the new kid on the block, Joe Bonamassa, alongside one of his childhood heroes and the Living Legend, B.B. King.  By this point, everyone knows their history and how King made Bonamassa a national name in the blues world at age 12.  Twenty years later, they have finally joined forces on a song -- Willie Nelson's "Night Life".  This is the equivalent of Buddy Rich and Neil Peart playing drums together on the same stage (one could have only dreamed...).  You can hear in JB's voice how thrilled he was to have this opportunity to play alongside King in the studio.

I thought I would leave you with Joe's album notes from "Black Rock":

Hello friends,

Once again it's time to breakout the old Scully 8 track, solid state logic and a few cables to bring you another installment of our brand of 21st century R&B.

Our mandate was clear -- first introduction: play loud.  Second: play reckless.  Third: channel the music that inspired you to pick the damn thing up in the first place.  Fourth: have fun with it.  The result is an album that is the product of good times, reckless abandonment and the environment in which it was recorded.  The usual cast of characters, artisans, dilatants and shady (though well dressed) men are all in attendance.  Mr. Shirley once again serves us a wonderful sound of blues-rock opulence.  Mr. Ludwig adds the final touch, which befits his reputation.  So, ladies and gentlemen, sit back and enjoy "Black Rock".  Turn it up as loud as you want.  It's a good thing.

Oh, by the way, a longtime friend stopped by.  He needs no introduction -- Kings never do.

Love,

Joe Bonamassa

B.B. and I:

Mr. King and I met in 1990 at a festival in Rochester, N.Y.  He was as kind and gracious to a little boy with a telecaster as he would have been meeting the President of the United States (and the President would have been as nervous as I was).

B.B. King means the world to me professionally, personally, and musically.  The fact that he has honored me by playing on this album is something I will never forget and could never repay.  Thank you for believing in me, for inspiring us all and being the definition of the word "gentleman".

Your Friend,

Joe

To wrap this up, buy the album.  You will not be disappointed.  Also, check out Bonamassa's web site for tour information.  For those of you in the Washington, D.C. area, I hope to see you on April 23 at GWU's Lizner Auditorium.  The only thing better than Joe in the studio is Joe live...

1 comment:

Ross said...

Check out Joe's new single with a free download...just type in the promo code: JTUBE and enjoy!

http://www.jbonamassa.com/jbstore/index.php?p=product&id=77&utm_source=Blog%2BDownload&utm_medium=J-Tube&utm_content=Free%2BDownload%2Bfor%2BBlogs&utm_campaign=J-Tube%2BBlog%2BDownload%2BLink

ReaganConservatives.us is an independent site and is not affiliated with any official web sites, associations, or organizations associated with President Reagan. Any views expressed or content included on this site do not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of any of the organizations or individuals named, linked, or advertised.



Questions? Contact webmaster@ReaganConservatives.us



Copyright © 2008-2011, www.ReaganConservatives.us. All rights reserved.