"Afterglow - Emerging As A True Classic"
A Review of Afterglow, Black Country Communion
by Brian Shea
Does anyone remember the sounds of the early 70's? BCC sure does, and creates a true homage to the great classic rock albums of the past, and to the huge powerful acts that filled arenas. I can hear so many influences in the songs, including Deep Purple, The Who, Bad Company, Rush, and, ok, maybe a little Led Zeppelin (hard blues rock with incredible pounding drums from Bonham).
At first listen, I was really blown away. So much so that I thought it could end up being one of those Classic Classics, the one's we look back and go WOW! Albums such as Appetite for Destruction, Ten, Temple of the Dog, Machine Head, Who's Next, Moving Pictures, or VH 1. You get the picture. (sure, throw in a Zep album or two if you like).
That was my first impression.
First Impression A Lasting Impression?
The driving pounding foundation laid down by Jason and Glenn hooked me in. I have been missing this kind of drumming and thumping grooves in most rock. Who had an incredible force of sound in the old days? Entwistle/Moon, Bonham/Jones? Strong foundations on which to build soaring, growing, breathing structures that can suddenly become feather light. (ok, I listen to a lot of Zep, but I'm in a 12-step group for it).
This is definitely more of a homage to the old acts. It is all original in work, but there are certain things that seemed to be lifted from such classics as Baba O'Reilly, Tom Sawyer, Ramble On. I know I heard more, but those are just the ones that are ringing in my head right now.
Having just listened to Re-Machined: A Tribute to Deep Purple's Machine Head, I certainly heard the Deep Purple sound, very fresh with keyboards, and of course, Glenn Hughes vocals. On Afterglow, keyboards are finally showing up more in Black Country Communion. Some might argue they come out a little too much when they seem to go all Dream Theater on us, but others probably love that stuff. So, I am not one to say something does or doesn't belong. I like the increase in keyboards.
Afterglow has so much going for it. I was sucked in so quickly, that I made a wise decision to get an outside view of the album. I didn't want to look like a fool, calling this some masterpiece, and it becoming a Van Halen III. I'm glad I did, as it allowed me to see the small things that seem to be missing.
This album is very solid. It seems Jason Bonham has found some sort of new confidence and is adding more to the mix. Derek Sherinian is given more room for keyboards, adding a fullness to the sound, and bouncing off of Joe's guitar. Glenn Hughes wrote the majority of the album, and it was supposed to be for his solo album but he decided it would be better with BCC. Of course, he was right. An album with his vocals, mingled with Joe Bonamassa's vocals and arrangements and writing is a solid plan.
But I don't think 5-6 days in a recording studio was enough time to draw out the chemistry that creates the magic. Coming off of listening to some of Joe's other albums, and knowing what he normally puts out, there is a small emptiness in the tracks. Where's the guitar? Where are the solos?
Without Joe's guitar voicings, or his vocals, we are left with mostly Glenn's vocals. Glenn's voice can go from light and breathy, to controlled rock wailing, and the performance is great. Still, I miss the variation that more of Joe's voice would have added to the final product. It's just... I want more, and I know Joe has more.
Having the band play together for more than 5 days (the amount of time they spent recording it) will bring out so much more. I really think if there is a future tour, even a year from now, Afterglow will grow and morph into the classic it was destined to be. It needs to be put into a stock pot of band chemistry, allowed to stew and be enhanced.
Listen to Common Man, and the ending jam. THAT is BCC, and that is Joe jamming away with a group that needs to be together to create its magic.
For more information about Black Country Communion, visit their website here.
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Mentioned in the article:
- Brian stays in his cave listening to music most of the day while working on all things Internet and Web. He doesn't want to admit to how much of that music is live Led Zeppelin, from the 1968 "New Yardbirds" to the 1979 Knebworth shows and beyond. Or the week long playlist of just No Quarter. So, we don't ask him. It's our little secret.