Monday, 15 April 2019

Joe Bonamassa - Black Rock (2010)


Released March 2010

Joe Bonamassa's blues rock is very much influenced by sixties British blues rock, far more so than the music of the Mississippi Delta. He adds to it a post-2000 sonic bombast and his albums are a bit of an aural assault, although they are certainly powerful and blow the cobwebs away. They are full of massive, searing riffs and thumping drums, together with his gritty voice. All good stuff, but the listener doesn't get too much relief. It is thick, heavy, crunching modern blues rock.


1. Steal Your Heart Away
2. I Know a Place
3. When The Fire Hits The Sea
4. Quarryman's Lament
5. Spanish Boots
6. Bird On A Wire
7. Three Times A Fool
8. Night Life
9. Wandering Earth
10. Look Over Yonders Wall
11. Athens To Athens
12. Blue And Evil
13. Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind        

"Steal Your Heart Away" is an old Bobby Parker blues from 1961 that Bonamassa turns into a chunky, throaty and industrial rock number. A cover of John Hiatt's "I Know A Place" has some mighty riffs, and thundering piledriver drums. It has a great solo half way through too. "When The Fire Hits The Sea" has a classic, upbeat blues riff and a lively energy to it. Despite its catchiness, it is still beefy stuff. The soloing is again top class. "Quarryman's Lament" gives us a change to the ambience, with its Celtic-style folk fiddle and laid-back folky feel. When Bonamassa varies his approach a little, such as on songs like this, things become a lot more intriguing. Both of those are self-penned songs.

"Spanish Boots" shows his liking for late sixties British blues rock in a strong cover of Jeff Beck's song from 1969's "Beck-Ola". It is given the full storming Bonamassa treatment, which works really well. "Bird On A Wire" is a cover of a Leonard Cohen song and it is done in a mournful, evocative style, building up impressively from a quiet beginning and featuring some lovely violin. It is one of the album's best cuts. Full of soul. Back to some searing Chicago blues for the powerful "Three Times A Fool", an Otis Rush cover. This one really rocks, with a throbbing bass line as well as some typical Chicago-style guitar from guest B.B. King.

"Night Life" is a wonderful slice of Stax-ish horn-powered soul/blues/rock. It is actually a Willie Nelson cover, but here, it drips with sweet blues rock honey. Love it. "Wandering Earth", a Bonamassa original, is a solid, slow-burning slab of gritty blues rock. "Look Over Yonders Wall" is a thumping, energetic Chicago-style number. The guitar is again sumptuous.

"Athens To Athens" is another Bonamassa has written in a folky, "Led Zeppelin III" fashion. "Blue And Evil" is a big, dramatic, Zeppelin-esque muscular rocker. "Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind" is a surprisingly jaunty, lively acoustic piece of fluff to end on. It is at odds, sonically, with most of the album, however, despite some superb guitar-picking soloing. So, there you go, if you like your blues rock big, brash, loud and powerful, this is for you. Personally, although I do like the album, I am more of a sixties/early seventies blues rock man.


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