Friday, June 17, 2011

2 - Black Country Communion - 2011

Black Country Communion 2Defeating the feared sophomore slump, Black Country Communion's simply titled 2 cements their status as a super group as opposed to supergroup. They're a band if ever there was one and 2 is a marvelous record of growth in all directions since 2010's Black Country Communion hit less than a year ago. Whereas BCC had an off-the-cuff "this-may-only-happen-once" charm, BCC2 comes together as a fully-developed work by a band who has already hit their stride and, frankly, instills an optimism that the lightning may not only be captured in the bottle, it may also be allowed to age for a while, then pulled off the shelf and shared amongst the masses with some regularity.

"The Outsider" puts Derek Sherinian front and center at the outset. Keyboards done well add the "classic" to rock and this roaring reintroduction to the band leaves no doubt that they will indeed find themselves filed among the greats. Glenn Hughes continues to astound with a voice that is simply one of the greatest in rock and roll. "Man in the Middle." Glenn Hughes writes that he put a lot time and multiple rewrites into this number. It paid off. The groove is downright magical.

With Jason Bonham onboard, the Led Zeppelin comparisons are inevitable. It's noteworthy, then, that "The Battle for Hadrian's Wall" comes across as the most reminiscent to that classic canon due to its similarity to their acoustic output. Joe Banamassa provides the key vocal here and his guitars combined with Sherinian's keyboards provide a lush backdrop to a very British historical lyric. "Save Me" showcases Hughes' bass skills and is interplay with Bonham sounds as if the two have been playing together for years. Again, very Zeppelinesque, this one would have felt right at home on Presence.

"Smokestack Woman" offers an addictive riff and will doubtless be a crowd favorite at live shows. "Faithless," a slower-tempo number, provides the first awe-inspiring Bonamassa solo the near three minutes in. Joe belts out another lead vocal on "An Ordinary Son," which, frankly, provides a mid-album dull spot, song-wise. It's got some great guitar work but it comes in over six minutes into the overlong eight-minute track.

"I Can See Your Spirit" gets the groove rolling again and, a punchy rocker, also serves as another nice showcase for Derek Sherinian's keyboards about three minutes in. "Little Secret" is slow blues as somehow only the British can do. Glenn Hughes floors the listener with this vocal and Bonamassa's solos are a smoldering wonder - this track is easily the high point of the entire record. "Crossfire" brings back the dirty rawk, Hughes and Bonham's chugging rhythm section forcing you out of your seat, and, at this point, Black Country Communion struck me as the modern-day equivalent of classic-era Bad Company.

Black Country Communion 2 ends with "Cold," a super-charged ballad not unlike those Mr. David Coverdale excels in (and that's a rock-solid compliment). One is left with an indelible impression that this band has just gelled so perfectly, it's hard to imagine any of them doing anything else from this point forward. They're touring right now - so do anything you can to check them out so you can say you were there early on.

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