The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION

2

Released 2011

 

 

Black Country Communion, the supergroup consisting of no other than the voice of rock himself, Glenn Hughes, young guitar wunderkind Joe Bonamassa, Keyboard journeyman Derek Sherinian and Jason 'son of John' Bonham ,delivered their debut album in 2010 and just a year later they've thrown their musical might behind a second album. Two albums in two years? Bands haven't done that since the 70's!

 

While their self titled debut left alot of people feeling underwhelmed, myself included, BCC are clearly out to prove the naysayers wrong with their second album. With BCC2 we hear a band starting to hit its stride with better songs, sounds and performances. Take the best parts of Zeppelins Physical Graffiti, Purples Perfect Strangers and Sabbaths Mob Rules albums, throw it all together and you're close to what BCC2 sounds like. Or imagine Chickenfoot but with a pastoral, progressive rock influence....

 

Wasting no time getting straight to the point, proceedings kick off with 'The Outsider", an uptempo riff rocker which is a pleasant reminder that sometimes all you need is a handful of notes, some groove and a lot of conviction to deliver a breath taking rock and roll song. The band is on fire, from Hughes' upper register vocals to Bonamassas scorching solo and Bonhams relentless drumming.

 

Next up 'Man in the Middle' is just as heavy but considerably more funky. While Hughes' lyrics may verge on pastiche the band absolutely smokes with a Rage Against the Machine style riff and rhythm section groove, before a string section is introduced in the bridge. At this point I found myself thinking 'this is what the Tea Party would have sounded like with Glenn Hughes on vocals!". Bonamassa proves himself to be a rock shredder par excellence with the solo as well.

 

"The Battle For Hadrians Wall" sees Bonamassa taking over lead vocals and introducing the acoustic guitar. It sounds like Bonamassa delivering a musical portmenteau of the Battle of Evermore and Ramble On, completely with mandolin and 12 string electric guitar. Joes voice really takes the limelight here and his lyrics convey the sights, smells and sounds of early warfare all too well.

 

The strong Zeppelin vibe continues with "Save Me", which is nothing short of epic. In fact the liner notes state that this started life as a tune jason bonham was working on with Jimmy Page, John paul Jones and Robert Plant. At nearly 8 minutes long the track fuses a drum groove worthy of the late Bonham senior combined with an insistent ostinato guitar riff and tasteful, well paced vocals. Sherinians subtle keyboard textures help bring the song to life and Hughes' vocal performance really is inspired. Furthermore Kevin Shirley, the 'fifth member' of BCC has managed to capture one of the best drum sounds I've heard, period. "Save Me' is worth the price of entry alone; just go listen to it!

 

After an early highlight the band then settle into their groove with "Smokestack Woman" which is a straight ahead groove rocker. It's great to hear Joe and Glenn's Free influence come to the fore and they sound right at home kicking back and letting the groove do the talking.

 

Possibly my favourite track is up next, the Glenn Hughes penned "Faithless". Glenn has stated that he's more proud of this song than anything else he's written and I can see why; it's his Kashmir! Emotional yet restrained, epic yet refined and minimal yet lush "Faithless" is the sort of song I wanted to hear on BCC1. The string arrangements and production flourishes don't get in the way of an absolutely stellar vocal from Hughes while the band drives the point home.

 

With the band peaking in the perfect spot, the rest of the album explores the individual members strong points; "Ordinary Son" is a song Joe sings dedicated to his parents; "I Can See Your Spirit" is like Deep Purple meets the Chilli Peppers, super funky, tight and fun; "Little Secret" is a great blues workout with some tasty organ from Sherinian; and "Crossfire" is another great RATM style groove with melded to Hughes, Bonamassa, Sherinian and Bonhams individual styles.

 

"Cold" finishes the album off with another great vocal from Hughes and sees the band exploring their bluesier and more melancholy side; until it picks up during Bonamassas show stopping solo! If "Faithless" is BCC's Kashmir then this is their Stairway, starting off mellow and reflective before building up into an amazing guitar solo from Bonamassa which melds speed, taste, feel and finesse and keeps you on the edge of your seat. It's a fitting end to a great song and a great album.

 

All up BCC's second offering is a far more impressive album than their debut; the songs are much more mature and have more emotional depth and meaning, the sounds are more organic and the band has taken strides towards sounding more like a real band rather than just a 'looks good on paper' recording project. To me BCC are more than just a 70s throwback; they possess the same swagger as Free, purple or Zeppelin at their peak.

 

If you liked the first one, you'll love this. If you didn't like the first one, give this one a shot. If you're still not impressed, I'm sure the guys will have a third album out before you can say 'Hughes, Bonamassa, Sherinian, Bonham'.

 

Highlights: 'Man in the Middle", "The Battle for Hadrians Wall, "Save Me", "Faithless", "Cold"
Buy If You Like: Physical Graffiti era Zeppelin, Deep Purple Mk III, Free, Chickenfoot

 

 

 

By Leon Todd