So today started out a lot like yesterday, still no coffee at the 7-Eleven due to remodeling! Then I listened to tracks from several different blues albums and again nothing caught my attention. So at lunch I checked out the Billboard Blues charts and there are number one sat Joe Bonamassa’s new album Black Rock and at Number 9 Derek Trucks new album Already Free so I loaded both on the mp3 player and set out for a site to do some testing and listening on the way! Now Bonamassa was a name I’d always heard (seems like I say this a lot!) but never listened to, my mistake! Anyway since I heard one of his albums about a year ago his music gets steady play. So I anticipated that I would enjoy Bonamassa’s great playing and good vocals and all around strong sound. The first two tracks did not disappoint me and on the third track “When the Fire Hits the Sea” I caught myself saying is he playing slide guitar on this track – yep – and it was good! Then came “Quarryman’s Lament” which opened with a different sounding instrument, which I have since learned was a clarino (a Greek type clarinet) and I said this is a great album.
But the best was yet to come probably the best cover I have ever heard of Leonard Cohen’s “Bird on a Wire” which opens with Greek musician Thanasis Vasilopoulos on the nei, a Greek flute-like instrument. Bonamassa took a favorite Leonard Cohen song of mine and made it a favorite Joe Bonamassa song of mine!! It just blew me away!
Other highlights on the album include a cover of Jeff Beck’s “Spanish Boots” and Otis Rush’s “Three Times a Fool” and a great duet with B.B. King as they covered “Night Life”
More Greek influences (a result of the album being recorded at Black Rock studios in Greece, hence the name of the album) are heard on “Athens to Athens” and the opening of a Bonamassa original “Blue and Evil” that opens with Joe on acoustic guitar trading licks with Manolis Karadinis playing bouzouki (think mandolin or Indian instrument sarod), which quickly changes to hard guitar and sounds a little like Led Zeppelin!
Throughout the album Bonamassa’s guitar playing is awesome as usual and I think his vocals are some of the best I’ve heard from him. But the cover of “Bird on a Wire” and the use of the Greek instruments and some of the acoustic stuff just sends this album a whole different level, definitely a 5 out of 5 if not higher! I am sure this album will get lots of plays over the next few months!
Now like I said I also downloaded and listened to Derek Trucks CD Already Free which I also liked but can’t put in the same class as Black Rock. but I don’t think it’s fair to comment on that CD today so I will listen to it again and comment on it tomorrow!