With plans to hit the road with a full fledged tour, the boys in Black Country Communion didn’t feel they had enough material, so how did they solve the problem? Easy, they wrote and recorded another record simply titled ‘2‘ their second in nine months, which is, just like their music, the way it used to be done. While guitarist Joe Bonamassa was out globetrotting in support of his latest record ‘Dust Bowl,‘ song writing duties for the next BCC record rested squarely on the shoulders of vocalist/bassist Glenn Hughes, which he, with honor, graciously accepted.
This time around Glenn set out to write a more honest record (lyrically speaking) to visit some dark times and places that he had experience in his life, almost autobiographical. Glenn wrote nine of the songs off the record (Bonamassa wrote the other two) songs about life and death, with a few lighter ones thrown in for good measure. He said the song ‘Smokestack Woman‘ came to him during the previews in a movie theater.
Black Country Communion 2 is more of the same from this relatively new band. In a short time they have carved out a sound and style that they can call all their own. Don’t get me wrong, they have not re-invented the rock music wheel but with Hughes’ easily recognizable and powerful vocal delivery and superb bass playing, coupled with Bonamassa’s stellar guitar work, Derek Sherinian providing endless atmospheric textures and layers with his keys and Jason Bonhamkicking it out with bravado on his kit, it all comes together, there is no mistake, this is Black Country Communion. This is rock music for grown ups, yet it still has a youthful energy about it.
Although this effort seems a bit mellower than their debut, it still contains some straight ahead rockers. Like the opening track ‘The Outsider‘ which has Bonamassa and Sherinian furiously trading licks during the solo break, or the aforementioned ‘Smokestack Woman‘ featuring Bonamassa playing with a therimin and ‘I Can See Your Spirit‘ which definitely rocks. The first single off the record ‘Man In The Middle‘ (see the video below) about a screwed up rock star living on the edge of excess and fame rocks at more of a hard, headbanger pace.
Black Country Communion took ten days to record this record, that’s five more than their 2010 self titled debut. (How long did it take Axl and his band to record their last record?) Producer Kevin Shirley likes to move things along while recording in order to keep the music fresh and spontaneous. All of Bonamassa’s solo’s are usually one take, no more than two. Even though these are all seasoned musicians with numerous records under their collective belts, they still rely on Shirley for mentoring and suggestions. During the writing of the solo duel for ‘The Outsider‘ between Bonamassa and Sherinian, Hughes recalls:
“The funniest thing happened during a break, I was showing Kevin another song called ‘Little Secret‘. As I did, he told Joe and Derek to go off and work out a solo to ‘The Outsider.‘ Suddenly, I heard them in the other room doing a kind of Deep Purple Highway Star/Burn thing, and I went, ‘What?! Don’t tell me they’re going there!’ I’ve already been down that road before, of course. But Kevin talked me down: ‘Trust me, Hughsy, rock fans are gonna love it.' ”
Shirley is also credited with contributing to some of the song writing, he is, in essence, the fifth member. Although they did spend a bit more time recording, the boys seemed to shy away somewhat from the long musical liberties they took on the debut, where they would stretch out, extending solo’s and musical journeys full of jamming and some experimentation. The mellower songs on this record include, ‘The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall‘ written by Bonamassa, and I find that fascinating. Think about it, a New York born guitarist working with Englishmen and he’s the one that writes a song about an ancient wall, a fortress from AD 122 built in Northern England, go figure. The other Bonamassa penned tune, ‘An Ordinary Son‘ which Hughes says is about Joe’s parents, which he denies, has Bonamassa’s undeniable signature style of writing and playing all over it, great song.
Another track off BCC 2 called ‘Save Me‘ came from the sessions Jason Bonham spent with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones during rehearsals for a possible Led Zeppelin tour sans Robert Plant. Bonham played Hughes a riff from these sessions and he ran with it. Hughes explores his own death in this lyrically dark song. I love Glenn’s lower vocal delivery on the verses and Sherinian adds an airy middle Eastern vibe that makes for an epic tune, this one is a musical journey. Glenn’s song ‘Cold‘ deals with another aspect of death, other peoples death, and dealing with it publicly. This tune has an atmospheric feel to it as it floats along in a mesmerizing fashion, picking up steam during Joe’s smokin’ solo. The up tempo tune ‘Crossfire‘ is an infectious little number that fits in well with Sherinain playing a nice little synth riff towards the end.
The remaining tracks, ‘Faithless‘ and ‘Little Secret‘ deal with Hughes’ struggles with addictions and relapses that are far behind him these days. You just had to know the band would eventually write and record a full on blues tune and ‘Little Secret‘ is just that. But Bonamassa as you might have thought, did not write it, Glenn Hughes did. He envisioned Joe singing it, but Bonamassa insisted Glenn sing this soulful, powerful song.
Overall this record is, like I said more of the same, from this hard working, hard playing group of exceptional musicians and song writers. If you are into music that will take you back to a time of style and substance Black Country Communion 2 is for you.
Rating: 3-1/2 out of 5 stars
Favorite Track: Save Me
Black Country Communion 2 Track Listing:
01. The Outsider 4:23
02. Man in the Middle 4:35
03. The Battle for Hadrian’s Wall 5:11
04. Save Me 7:43
05. Smokestack Woman 5:10
06. Faithless 5:12
07. An Ordinary Son 7:59
08. I Can See Your Spirit 4:12
09. Little Secret 6:59
10. Crossfire 6:03
11. Cold 6:55
Black Country Communion is:
Glenn Hughes – Bass/Vocals
Joe Bonamassa – Guitar/Vocals
Jason Bonham – Drums
Derek Sherinian – Keys
Spacetrucker blogs at Rock Choice.
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