Black Country Communion's
The first public interplay between Joe Bonamassa and Glenn Hughes was at Guitar Center's, King of the Blues Finals, where they performed Medusa (Trapeze, 1970). It was Kevin Shirley, producer for Joe's solo career, who had the idea to form a band around these two musicians--a side project of sorts. And in 2009, a newly formed super-group consisted of Glenn Hughes vocals, bass; Joe Bonamassa vocals, guitar; Jason Bonham backing vocals, drums; and Derek Sherinian on keyboards.
Fresh out of the studio, where they had been recording their first album, the band played two songs, "Mistreated" and "One Last Soul," at Bonamassa’s solo gig on March 17, 2010 in Riverside, California. I recall watching Mistreated, and being utterly amazed by Glenn's scorching vocals and Joe's potent rock riffs! The band was tight, and sounded as though they'd been working together for years. They were high powered, yet controlled. There was that "spark" and "wow" factor inherent to rock 'n roll. I knew instantly, "I'm a fan."
Thus, it is the culmination of intense melodies, rolling and thunderous drum strikes, extended guitar solos and robust keyboard swells off "Black Country"(2010) or "2" (2011) which transport me back to the 70s for some head-on, pump-your-fist, angst rock 'n roll.
I recently had the privilege to preview "Afterglow." This is BCC's third album in three years, due out October 30, 2012.
Without interruption, I intently listened to the 11 tracks and jotted down my initial impressions. On the second play through, I got up and moved about my home to encounter the music differently. Today, after a one week hiatus, I've returned to this project to write the following:
Afterglow is a solid collection of compositions, with the lyrics to all, but two tracks, written by Glenn Hughes. The other two were co-written by Hughes and Jason Bonham. He has said his writing is based on personal experience and that rock fans are intelligent and want real life stories and not just a “guy and girl shagging.” He also stated there is a new mix here which “does not step outside the genre.” Bonamassa has remarked on how the previous recordings bordered on "heavy metal” and how the band wanted to get back to more of that 70s classic rock sound.
For me, the divergence from heavier rock melodies heard on "Black Country," "Beggarman" or "The Great Divide" (to name a few) is too noticeable, and those key BCC nuances like Jason's thunderous drum work on "Crossfire" or Glenn's signature bass on "Beggarman" are missing. And where are Joe's EXTENDED, JAW-DROPPING guitar solos of "Song of Yesterday," "Save Me," or "I Can See Your Spirit?" Despite it all, I know I will come to love this album.
Produced by Kevin Shirley
Released on J&R Adventures, Mascot Music
October 30, 2012
Track by Track
Track 1: "Big Train." I was immediately struck by the dissimilarity to I and II, even though the track opens with an "in your face" rock riff. I found Glenn's vocals tempered, sounding too much like Sammy Hagar. Joe's guitar solo is dialed back.
Track 2: "This Is Your Time." The melody reminds me of Glenn's "Soul Mover.” It has a good groove. Joe's solo was solid and short.
Track 3: "Midnight Sun." The intro is strong with a definite Who keyboard and drum flavor. Joe's solo is reminiscent of "Beggarman" and a terrific number.
Track 4: "Confessor." This is the first track where I feel BCC truly comes alive. It's strong, jamming, with solid guitar/keyboard solos. The band members have all commented about being fans of Paul Rodgers' band, Free. Joe has personally stated he models his singing and phrasing style after Paul's, discernible on The Battle for Hadrian's Wall and here on.
Track 5; "Cry Freedom." On webisode 4, fans can see Glenn and Joe share the microphone. Joe's slide work is impressive on this standout piece.
Track 6: "Afterglow" is the centerpiece and showcases Glenn’s tender vocals, set against Joe's guitar swells, it's a wonderful arrangement.
Track 7: "Dandelion" opens with a driving drum/guitar intro and even though Joe's solo is shorter than desired, it's substantial.
Track 8: "The Circle." The guitar solo reminds me of Joe's dazzling work on "Save Me," "Cold" and "Song of Yesterday."
Track 9: "Common Man." This is very good, with multiple keyboard, drum and guitar solos.
Track 10: "The Giver." I like this one a lot.
Track 11: The closing song, "The Crawl," is my favorite, with its massive amounts of Zeppelin-ish keyboard licks, wherein Derek really shines. It was recorded for BCC 2, but didn't make that album cut. It's nasty and dark, by far the most iron-clad, BCC-sounding number on the album.
To order the album click here.
For more on Black Country Communion, you can preview this record on their website, click here.
Yours in music,