Review Summary: Black Country Communion's debut shows the beginning of a very interesting and satisfying supergroup
Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian, and Joe Bonamassa; these are all prolific journeymen that just about every seasoned rock fan should be able to recognize. In each of the various bands that each musician has been a part of, they have demonstrated a great deal of talent in both group and solo settings. Now in the spirit of recent supergroups such as Chickenfoot and Them Crooked Vultures, the self-titled debut of Black Country Communion shows these rather unlikely comrades coming together and coming up with some enjoyably fresh material in the process.
As expected by a band that features former members of Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple (Just to name a few), it isn't too surprising to say that this album has an incredibly strong prog/classic rock vibe. In addition, every song shows off strong funk and blues influences and the usage of the beloved Hammond organ immediately suggests an upbeat 70's feeling. Fortunately, this usage of older influences goes along well with other recent projects that have been flirting with 60s and 70s sounds and always sounds authentic thanks to the collective experiences of the musicians at hand. It also never really sounds dated for this very reason, ensuring that both old and new music listeners should be able to latch onto this with very few complaints.
Though all the members have great performances, it seems like vocalist/bassist Hughes and guitarist Bonamassa stand out the most on these recordings. As expected, Glenn's unrestrained performances show just why he is considered to be one of the greatest singers in the rock community and he throws in some pretty great bass lines to boot! While I'm mostly unfamiliar with the blues guitarist's solo works, I was also impressed by Bonamassa's playing as he also shows a great deal of energy and talent. He also contributes some lower-pitched vocals from time to time that blend pretty well with Hughes' wails and screams.
Fortunately, the other two members don't let up and also show off their talents quite nicely. Jason Bonham manically pounds the drums in a way that recalls his father's signature style and Sherinian rocks the previously mentioned organ to great effect. The production by Kevin Shirley is also effective and gives the album a full sound that reinforces the jams and free-flowing atmosphere.
Though the songs are united by recurring influences, they all manage to stand out and sound quite different from one another. The opening "Black Country" is definitely the most aggressive song on here thanks to its charging bass/guitar trade-offs and howling vocals. Following the blistering opener, most of the songs are mid-tempo tunes that are made memorable by some smooth grooves. Of these tracks, the upbeat "One Last Soul" is the most accessible though it does somewhat sound like something that Chickenfoot would've put on their own debut.
Some of the other tracks of this nature that are also worth noting include the driving "Beggarman" and "No Time," the Deep Purple-esque stylings of "The Revolution In Me" and "Stand (At The Burning Tree)," and the AC/DC recollections of "Sista Jane." In addition to these shorter rockers, the album is rounded out by a few longer numbers that more prominently show off the blues influences and allow the guitars to stand out even more than before. "The Great Divide" and "Down Again" bring about particularly soulful choruses, "Song of Yesterday" brings in a Zeppelin crunch and "Too Late For The Sun" brings in a particularly elaborate arrangement in its twelve minute duration.
Also worth noting is the inclusion of a song called "Medusa," which had originally been recorded by Trapeze in the early 70s. While something like this would be better suited as a bonus track, this version works very well and shows that Glenn hasn't lost his many talents in spite of his age and complicated history.
While the band's supergroup status may make some listeners skeptical, this is a surprising hit that should not be overlooked and certainly makes me interested in checking out more from Bonamassa's discography in particular. I would highly recommend this to fans of the band members' other various projects as well as any newcomers that are already into bands such as King's X.
"One Last Soul"
"The Great Divide"
"Revolution In Me"
Originally published at http://suite101.com