I don’t do reviews, but……….BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION 2 – Rock’s Salvation?
Most reviews about this band start with the deconstruction of the “Supergroup” tag, and how groups either succeed or fail to live up to it. I’ll try and avoid that. What Black Country Communion are is four musicians operating at the top of their game, but more importantly, producing something that transcends the sum of their parts. I suppose, if ever there was to be a definitive criteria for being labelled a Supergroup, then that is it.
What also sets this band, and this second album, apart from virtually anything else in the marketplace is the sheer quality and craft in the songwriting. No album fillers here. An album that clocks in around the hour mark and has not outstayed its welcome. Beautiful counterpoint between the ballads and the rockers, between Bonamassa’s and Hughes’ voices, which compliment each other perfectly. I read that producer Kevin Shirley had sought to capture the classic ‘Bonham’ sound through Bonzo’s lad, and he’s achieved that in spades. The drums are simply majestic, striding through the album like a colossus, the son honouring the father with feel and skill, and, as if you could ever doubt it, power.
But perhaps the most pleasing thing is the gradual emergence of Derek Sherinian’s keyboards. Heralding the great days of 70’s rock, he brings so much to this album. Never overbearing, always underpinning, and then sweeping into a solo off the back of Bonamassa, or growling along down and dirty with Hughes’ bass lines. Ah…the man’s bass lines!! If Glenn suffers from anything , it’s in having such an amazing voice that his bass playing is often overlooked. But you’ll not hear a better exponent of the craft, and his work on this album is stunning, whether it be driving “Man in the Middle” relentlessly, or the glorious weaving lines beneath Joe’s guitar in “The battle for Hadrian’s wall.”
A producer’s role is often a thankless one, at best misunderstood, or perhaps the fall guy if the project goes belly-up. But Kevin Shirley deserves huge praise, not just for his work in the studio, but for his vision in seeing immediately just what huge potential these four guys had collectively. His love and deep understanding of the genre is evident in his remix of Deep Purple’s “Come taste the band.”
You may have noticed I’ve hardly mentioned the tracks by name. It is because this is a bona fide body of work. There is no weak point on this album. The joy is to be derived from listening to it as a whole, almost unheard of in our 3 minute MTV short-attention-span culture, but the grace with which ‘2’ moves between Man in the middle, Hadrian’s Wall and Save me, for example elevates this album from a mere collection of songs. It is a masterful body of work from four men who inspire each other to new heights. It’s on in the car right now, every day, and I’ll be travelling with my partner Miki, who created the painting at the top of this article, to see them live in the Czech Republic in July. Come on!
(Just click on the portrait to visit Miki’s site and read about her thoughts on BCC and to order a print)