Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Joe Bonamassa `British Blues Explosion’ CD Review

On the Metal Hobbit Speaks, we try to review a variety of bands, however most do pertain from the harder side of music, yet sometimes a few do creep out of the repertoire in the inbox to listen too. Now, for those of you who have followed the blog for some time you will be aware of our love of the blues and in particular Joe Bonamassa. 

On `The British Blues Explosion` live release for Joe was a culmination for his love and admiration of the impact the British Blues scene of the late 60’s had on Joe’s musical upbringing. In particular, 3 of the most influential blues rock guitarists Beck, Page and Clapton all of which were influence by American Blues and then gave it a gritty edge and fed it back to America, who lapped it up with glee, building an essential bridge that Joe has been able to tread and just as importantly show others the path. 

`The British Blues Explosion` is a perfect representation of what the blues means to Joe. Being present in the audience that day, there was a real sense of past and future, not only due to what Joe was amazing recreating on stage but in its surroundings. On the one hand being in the presence of the rather stunning Old Naval buildings in Greenwich and looming in the backdrop of the enormous stage sat the glimmering city bank buildings, that was probably filled to the brim with toxic corporate entities. 

Anyway, back on track! The album contains 14 tracks from the archives of the British Blues boom, although the first track does seem a tad self-indulgent coming in at over 9 minutes, yet seeing this live doesn’t seem like 9 minutes have passed. The spectacle of witnessing an individual who is that good, play for 9 minutes is pure wonder and it’s not simply widdley noise, each note has meaning, each note played sings down to your very soul. However, unless this was witnessed live or on DVD, it could have been cut down a little. 

The album as a whole is a showcase for Joe’s ability to fully control and bend the guitar to his will, the way in which he manipulates the strings, distortion and volume of the guitar is simply magical. 

Take for example, `Let Me Love You Baby`. One of the sections, Joe takes the volume down and you can literally hear a pin drop, yet within the still air, a few quiet notes rings out, on each bend it feels like the audience are fully captivated, literally eating out of Joe’s hands as he expertly toys with his array of vintage instruments. 

When people think of the blues, they think perhaps of the Mississippi Delta Blues, guys like B.B. King. They think of something very down beat and with soul, some old gent on a rocking chair singing about his long lost love. However, when you listen throughout the album it doesn’t have too many of those dour moments, `Motherless Children` is for want and purpose a perfect example of how British Blues injected a massive adrenaline boost to its US parent. Joe performs these tracks with full gusto and bravado. 

Again looking back at Joe’s unique control of his craft, songs like `Black Water/Django` show off his mastery of scales. We can not to leave this review without mentioning `How Many More Times’. This track epitomises Joe’s both expertise on the guitar and his ability to include every musician on stage and give them a moment to shine. Yes the track is around the 15 minute mark, yet each of the fantastic musicians on stage has their moment to show off. 

Overall ` British Blues Explosion` shows off Joe’s prowess as a live musician, a man of relatively few words in between songs. His aim is to get the music out there and by chatting in between just lessens the time he gets to strut his phenomenal skills to the on looking audience. Even if you don’t know the songs, the way in which Joe and his band captive you with their mesmerising proficiency just makes you want to learn more about the blues and who has come before and perhaps Joe will and probably already has inspired a new generation of young blues kids. 

9/10 – Seductive and magical, another prime cut from the workings of Joe Bonamassa and co. 

Stand out tracks: 
`Let Me Love You Baby’, `Black Water/Django` and `How Many More Times` 

Track Listing: 
1. Beck’s Bolero/Rice Pudding 
2. Mainline Florida 
3. Boogie With Stu 
4. Let Me Love You Baby 
5. Plynth (Water Down The Drain) 
6. Spanish Boots 
7. Double Crossing Time 
8. Motherless 
10. Teas For One/ I Can’t Quit You Baby 
11. Little Girl 
12. Pretending 
13. Black Winter/ Django 
14. How Many More Times 

Joe Bonamassa online: