March 23, 2010 by billie789
I don’t even want to start this post. Anyone care to jump in?
I took a dear friend’s suggestion, and $9.99 he so generously sent me, to buy Joe Bonamassa’s new CD, Black Rock. I got it today and drove around listening intently during my lunch hour.
I’ll listen some more on the way home tonight. Here’s what I think so far:
There are a couple of really well-crafted pieces that sound a little off beat, perhaps it’s the lure and spirit of my grandparent’s home country, I don’t know, but it’s refreshing to hear the usual grunts and power-smash chords and the forced, smoky vocal growl pushed aside for something interesting and woven and thoughtful.
My benefactor said that this new CD might remind me of the days when Bonamassa was cranking out “original” sounding classic rock. I know that sounds odd, but he was so inventive for So It’s Like That and A New Day Yesterday. Over the years since then, his power trio raw energy was smoothed over with band member changes, strings, keyboards, over-producing touches, etc. It seemed the artist had lost his way or burned out or just ran out of material.
This CD is the first breath of change from Totally Predictable that I’ve heard from this artist in a long, long time. I always maintain that if you can hum along with brand-new music, it ain’t brand new, is it? And with JB, it’s always been comforting to hum along, realizing that it’s nothing new, really.
I’m gonna leave it at that. I am not trying to go negative on this artist. He’s a good rock and blues singer, killer guitar player (although he’s sounding kind of predictable on this CD) and I know he’s a good guy to boot.
Ok, I’m not going to leave it just yet. I have one bitch and it isn’t a new one: When you cover a song like Jeff Beck’s “Spanish Boots,” tread very, very carefully, grasshopper. It’s funny, I’ve been listening very recently (and nearly non-stop) to a re-mastered, re-releaseed “Beck-Ola,” featuring Ron Wood on bass and Rod Stewart cranking the vocals, including “Spanish Boots.” I didn’t even know it was going to appear on JB’s new CD until my donor told me last week.
Doing a cover of a tune like “Spanish Boots” should never be an opportunity to castrate it, dumb it down and shoot it out there, unless you are disrespecting it enough to waste it as a filler track. That’s what happened here, in my opinion. JB’s fans, the ones who would willingly spontaneously deliver his multiple children while going door to door to sell jars of his urine, need to listen to the original to understand this complaint. The original was a wild, raw and loosely structured gypsy-jam with a distinct the-car-is-crashing-sound and Ron Wood’s bellowing, grinding, whale-out-of-water bass playing. In and around this tune, Beck weaves riffs non-stop with his signature circus insanity and guitar giggling. Then, he’ll stop bending around in the background and slam a power chord with the rest of the band, then back to his background gig. His guitar is singing in the background throughout most of the tune. Funny little riffs. Layered, laughing guitar licks. But when you stand back and look at the whole song, it’s a fairly complex piece with different moods being juggled. And it all somehow comes together.
Unfortunately, this cover has none of that. It’s a big, plodding, greasy thing, nearly unrecognizable and, as with a Blind Faith tune that JB covered years ago, he clips the signature chords short and improvises. It’s a LAZY version of this tune. Naughty, naughty! It feels like Pat Boone doing “Foxy Lady.”
“Oh…hey! Foxy Lady! (winks and points at someone in the audience) You know you’re a cut little heartbreaker, bobba-buh-do… wo-yeah! Like my white suede shoes? Anyway, wo-yeah, you know you’re a sweet little lovemaker…it’s great to be back in Pompano Beach! Hello, Florida!…I wanna take you home, yeah,
I won’t do you no harm, no…”
Now I’m done! Thank you for playing. For those who have complained over the years that JB was getting stale and predictable, this is a bit of an encouraging break-out CD. I hope he continues to explore and grow. He deserves it.