BCC IV - Black Country Communion are BACK!
It’s 4am and Joe Bonamassa has jet-lag and he is sat, wide awake, in his hotel room in Germany where he decides to listen to some old Black Country Communion material. The man then has an epiphany and fires off some emails to his old bandmates saying he is excited and wants to create as a team again. The response was overwhelmingly positive and fast forwarding a good few months, the result of this renewed collaboration is on my CD player right now and it isn’t good. It is stunning!
The frustrations the band had a few years back were well documented and were well justified; I was equally miffed having purchased a ticket for the Afterglow tour for it to be cancelled merely hours later. But the BCC bullet train is back on track and it is all systems go for this super-group - it’s full speed ahead.
And so to the album, produced once more by Kevin Shirley, the man who is Bonamassa’s right hand man in the studio guiding BCC to a solidly consistent sound.
We have already been treated to the straight ahead rocker Collide which clearly sets the tone for the album. And the tone, the feel, it is like Deep Purple meets Led Zeppelin, and it’s heavy, riffy and loud.
They are 'men on a mission' as Hughes sings in the slightly funky Over My Head. However, Bonamassa takes over singing duties for The Last Song For My Resting Place, a blues song with a country feel even bringing in some violin which works surprisingly well. Another track and another heavy, attacking JoBo riff leads into Awake where Hughes puts the 'fun in typhoon'.
The Cove is a slower blues bruiser, reminiscent of Free in many respects, where again Bonamassa lets rip and Hughes restrains himself but still manages to deliver that vocal emotion he is famous for. The tempo increases with The Crow starting with a solid Hughes bass riff and even includes a short bass solo as well as a Jon Lord style Hammond solo from keyboard maestro Derek Sherinian.
Wanderlust is catchy and a candidate for a single and likely to give them more exposure, although it may have to be edited down from it’s 8 minutes. The opening riff to Love Remains has more than a whiff of Led Zep about it but it soon moves on and takes on it’s own character.
Awake starts with a catchy, clever little run from Bonamassa followed by the last track on the album When The Morning Comes, another longer track which is something of a theme on this album, the band are allowing the songs to breathe and grow rather than cutting them short.
Throughout Bonamassa is the riff-meister, his playing benefits greatly from being in this band environment as the pressure is off and he can just concentrate on delivering the riffage.
The ‘voice of rock’, Glenn Hughes, is restrained yet soulful rather than screeching whilst his bass playing skilfully weaves it’s way around the songs.
Derek Sherininan was so far back in the mix on previous albums that you wondered whether he was even there at all, no fears here as he is present on every track.
Jason Bonham continues to be a tub thumper of the highest order, driving the drums with a resonance his father would have been proud of.
Bonamassa is still the sticking point for long term touring though, his solo career now so successful it restrains him from other activities, but it makes you wonder that if they were to put in some serious effort into touring they could become one of the biggest rock bands on the planet. This album certainly shows they have the potential to be huge and if it had been released back in the 70’s it would have blown the rock world apart.
With BCC IV the band have more than delivered the goods. Every track on this album is rock solid and it deserves to be in every blues rock and classic rock fans collection.
The album is released Friday 22nd September 2017.
Catch them live:
Tuesday 2nd January 2018 - Wolverhampton Civic Hall
Thursday 4th January 2018 - London Hammersmith Apollo
Photo: Neil Zlozower (via PR)