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Black Country Communion: 2

Black Country Communion is the supergroup made up of Glenn Hughes, vocals and bass; Joe Bonamassa, lead guitar, Jason Bonham, drums and percussion, and Derek Sherinian, keyboards. Last year they released their debut album and toured the US and Europe, headlining some major festivals. They didn't take much time off because the creative juices were flowing and they captured more of that live feeling here in their sophomore effort titled simply 2.

This album confirms their right to be called a supergroup as they have put together a better album than the first. They have proven again that they can rock with the best of the bands currently playing and even draw numerous comparisons to some of the legends. I believe they are one epic "Stairway to Heaven" track closer to be mentioned in the same breath as some of those legends with this album. What they really need, IMHO, is a Led Zep III formatted blues and folk album, with that key epic included to reach the next level.

With this and the last album they have proved they can rock, (if there ever was a doubt). Now they need to stake a legacy with something enduring. They've come close with "The Battle for Hadrian's Wall", "I Can See the Spirit", "Save Me", "An Ordinary Son", (this album's highlights), and "Song of Yesterday" from the debut album. "Cold" may be the closest they've come yet. Find a great story from the Black Country, like "Hadrian's Wall", and develop it to its fullest potential with lyrics that last forever like "Stairway", and this band will be on everyone's playlist.

The Outsider" picks right up where the first album left off. The power chords and drums are back, with Glenn roaring like a lion through this opener. Glenn is releasing his autobiography this year as well, (these guys stay pretty busy). If you've read some of that autobio you'll recognize some of its themes in the songs on this album starting with this track. The guitar work is amazing. Both the excellent lead work of Bonamassa, which goes without saying, and Glenn's bass work. Sherinian needed to be given more of a presence on this album and right from track one his organ - like keys give this one the extra power it needs. Bonham, (the name brings with it certain expectations), and Jason has always matched them from the perspective of my ears. All the power of his father's chops with added technical expertise to match. Glenn's vocals haven't lost any power or pitch despite the many years of touring and recording for some of the legends of rock.

Speaking of Bonham, his power pack drums blast "Man in the Middle" off to a great start. After these first two songs, the learned rock fan might feel like they were listening to a reincarnation of LZ II. There is enough power here to make you feel it. This track is more like a 'Whole Lotta Love' opener. Those power bass drums and Glenn's bass give you that deep sound the mighty Zep perfected so well on their sophomore album. But this is the 21st century and these guys are making new music with new stories as support. Don't know how Glenn keeps up this level of singing. The guitar work will take you back a bit though to a good place we all remember all too well, but haven't heard in a while.

Strap on your headphones and take a trip back to Led Zep IV with "The Battle for Hadrian's Wall". Yeh, you get all of the feeling of the "Battle for Evermore" set to a different story about the famous wall erected to help insure the northern empire of Rome. Joe Bonamassa handles the lead vocals on this one. "Tonight they will come 4,000 chariots strong". An epic song set to epic vocals, drums, bass and acoustic guitar. Imagine the opening scenes of 'Gladiator' and this band puts you right there in the middle of the action. The mandolin brings back memories of the classic LZ IV track. Only thing missing is the female vocal which would have been wonderful but probably too much of a return to the past. Easily one of the best tracks on the album.

"Save Me" on the other hand might be Glenn Hughes best vocal track on the album. You can tell this one came from the heart. Preparing the history of his autobio must have brought this song to life. Deep, emotional vocals about a desire for transformation set to excellent music. The guitars and keys that open the song are some of the best on the album. Glenn's vocals enter almost from a dreamscape, "Turn it around". Then Bonham, Hughes' bass and Bonamassa work their magic with deep notes that take us through the first part of the journey. "Save me, can't you hear me calling?", then those cool Kashmir like keys, strings and heavy lead guitar. Excellent effect. The notes get higher as the song progresses with an excellent guitar solo just past the midpoint. Derek's keys are another great album highlight.

"Smokestack Woman" brings back some of the feel of "Livin' Lovin' Maid", set to some groovy bass, drums and lead guitar. Derek's keys fill the background well, and he experiments with them on parts of the song. Glenn delivers the lyrics with great power. There are some great guitar solos, but this is the one extra song which may have been better left for the next album.

"Faithless" opens with great drums and heavy bass set against Bonamassa's excellent chord work. Glenn's vocals are some of the best as he delivers the opening lines straight up without screaming. When he does pick up volume, he is on, pitch perfect. Joe's strumming and Jason's punching drums mark perfect time. Derek's backing keyboards are dying to be heard and they come full force with that Kashmir like string presence later in the song. This track contains another of Joe's best guitar solos on the album. Definitely an album highlight.

Bonamassa's sincere vocals open with "Hold my head up high" as "An Ordinary Son", kicks off. "All I ever wanted was to be an ordinary son". Wonder whose life story this is about. Could have been any of the members or probably any of us as well. A great story of reaching out, remembering, and in the end holding your head up, because you did the best that you could. Hughes adds his vocals bringing back memories of the duets with Bonamassa from the debut. The guitar solos are excellent as is Sherinian's organ keyboards in support. Bonham's drums take us on out.

"I Can See the Spirit" has a 'Communication Breakdown' opening blitz sound to it. Bonamassa and Hughes on bass, rip the chords out as Hughes belts loudly. However, this sounds like 'Comm. Breakdown' full of Led Zep II's deeper 'Livin' Lovin' Maid' bass and drum sound. Bonham's drums and cymbals bring back memories of his father's sound. But this is one of Hughes's vocal showcases. He lifts his vocals "ten miles high", as Sherinian's organ keyboards get their due. Another album highlight.

We needed a little blues after all of these rockers, and "Little Secret" fills the need well. Hughes is again at his best when he sings straight up without screaming, though he can scream with the best. Those psychedelic Beatles, Abbey Road keyboard memories are wonderful from Sherinian. Bonamassa blows you away with those solos and Bonham's drums force you to take note. This is a nice tip of the hat at the power of "Since I've Been Loving You".

"Crossfire" opens slow with deep bass and keys, featuring Hughes's vocals coupled with more rockin' guitar from Bonamassa. The team of Bonamassa and Hughes is one of the better matches in rock right now. Together this duo presents powerful guitar and excellent vocal combos, which so many bands dream to find. If they stay together we can only expect bigger and better things as the friendship continues to develop. Sherinian's keys get a good showcase, later in the song, but he really needs one awesome Tony Banks moment someday on one of their future albums.

Bonham's slow drums and Bonamassa's moaning guitar open "Cold" perfectly. Another great showcase for Glenn Hughes vocal range. This band knows how to write an album closer that makes the fan anticipate the next album. The guitar and keyboard sounds make this one of the band's best songs yet. Hughes vocals are just incredible. Sherinian's keys support well. This band is firing on all cylinders and they are reaching for the top, writing the kind of songs we all have been missing for so long.

Track Listing
01. The Outsider
02. Man In The Middle
03. I Can See Your Spirit
04. The Battle For Hadrian's Wall
05. Save Me
06. Cold
07. Smokestack Woman
08. Faithless
09. An Ordinary Son
10. Little Secret
11. Crossfire
12. Crawl

Added: June 8th 2011
Reviewer: Mark Johnson
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 2745
Language: english

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Black Country Communion: 2
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-10-17 10:44:45
My Score:

The term super-group is often lazily bandied about when any musicians with a list of previous projects come together, with few actually making the impact that the term would suggest. Well last year when one time Deep Purple and Black Sabbath man Glenn Hughes teamed up with Joe Bonamassa, who is only the hottest hard rocking blues guitarist on the planet right now, expectations were already ridiculously high. However when you add to that equation a keyboard player who has worked with Dream Theater, Kiss and Alice Cooper and a drummer who is not only the son of the most celebrated sticksman the rock world has ever seen, but has also performed with his dad's band Led Zeppelin, as well as Foreigner and UFO, then there was no doubt that the term super-group was, on this occasion, well earned. The proof however is in the eating and any lingering doubts were eased out of sight by last year's self titled Black Country Communion debut platter, which exceeded expectations and seemed to bring the best out of the two main protagonists involved, namely Hughes and Bonamassa. The blend of classic rock ala Zep, Hughes era Purple and Bad Company, with Bonamassa's more blues oriented outlook resulted in an album that hit hard and maintained that impact every time you came back for more.

So here we are only a matter of months down the line and BCC are at it again, where they've found the time God only knows, as between solo albums and tours and US and European BCC tours there has been basically zero downtime. However the straight forward "2", basically with a few minor alterations, picks up from exactly where that initial statement of intent left off. Hughes is in imperious vocal and bass form, while Bonamassa's playing just seems to be dirtier, grittier and slightly less blues tinged, but in a way that makes this album ROCK. My only real complaint with the first BCC album was that while drummer Jason Bonham and keyboard player Derek Sherinian played their parts expertly, they weren't given the space to really stamp their own personalities on the sound of the band and thankfully this time round that is something that has been completely rectified. Back in the production chair again is Kevin Shirley (Journey, Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin) and yet again the overriding vibe across this album is a deep, threatening rumble where the guitar and bass seem almost to be as one. In truth that takes a little while to break through, something which the long songs also contributed to (only two of the eleven are under 4:30), however with a little perseverance, the true quality and emotional effort the guys have put into this record floods out of your speakers.

In terms of style nothing has changed in the few months between albums, but where the debut sounded on occasion like four top notch musicians sizing each other up, "2" is undoubtedly a band firing on all cylinders. In general heavier and more rocked up in execution, there's no doubt that "2" is the meatiest performance that Bonamassa has committed to plastic, but the blues are never far away and pleasingly they come to the fore from time to time to add a little needed breather to the gigantic grooves and tasty riffs. Of the balls out rockers opening track "The Outsider" and the mighty and irresistible "I Can See Your Spirit" stand tall and proud, but the likes of "Crossfire", which adds some sublime lead breaks and more restrained passages to the stomping riffs are equally as effective. Hughes takes the lead vocal role on most occasions, but Bonamassa steps to the front with great authority on "The Battle Of Hadrian's Wall", which I presume intentionally has more than a passing resemblance to its similarly titled Zep-mate "The Battle For Evermore". The song makes for a nice departure, as does the all out blues guitar wail of "Little Secret" which was just made for Hughes unbelievably clear and precise holler. As I said Sherinian and Bonham both make a larger impact on the sound of this album and in fact "The Outsider", "Smokestack Woman" and "Save Me", which Bonham initially worked on with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones before presenting it to BCC, wouldn't be half as effective without the added colour provided by the keyboards, while Bonham's kit poundingly precision perfect percussion drives this whole album more than any other instrument.

So many so called super-groups fail to deliver on anything other than column inches, but right from the off it was clear that Black Country Communion weren't here to muck about. If you thought the debut was good, then prepare to have it quite considerably blown away!

Black Country Communion: 2
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2011-06-08 14:27:47
My Score:

Black Country Communion's 2010 debut scored big with critics, but sadly the album from this hard rock supergroup never really seemed to generate the sales it deserved. Well, Glenn Hughes, Joe Bonamassa, Jason Bonham, and Derek Sherinian are back, quite quickly I might add, with the follow-up, entitled 2. Perhaps they are riding a wave of creativity, or feel they have something to prove, but this sophomore set is even stronger than their stellar debut, showing the world that Black Country Communion are no flash in the pan, but are here to stay.

Opening cut "The Outsider" is a raging, pulsating 70's styled hard rocker, with Bonamassa's riffs working alongside the pummeling bass & drum grooves of Hughes and Bonham, while Sherinian's Hammond fuels the fire. As for Hughes' vocals, well, I've said it before, but he is a freak of nature, as the legend sounds as powerful as ever. "Man in the Middle" is the first of a few Led Zeppelin styled heavy rockers here, thanks to some Jimmy Page styled riffs and Sherinian's soaring Mellotron & organ which pay homage to the underrated keyboard work of John Paul Jones. "Save Me" is a must hear for fans of "Kashmir", a truly epic sounding piece that is the centerpiece of this fine album. The band even get into a little Zep styled boogie on "Smokestack Woman", complete with Bonham's thunderous grooves and Glenn's funky wail. Bonamassa also gets in on the potent vocal performance here, delivering a stunning "An Ordinary Son", proving he is much more than just a talented guitar player.

"I Can See Your Spirit", "Crossfire", "Cold", "Save Me", and "The Battle for Hadrian's Wall" are all exciting hard rockers brimming with thunderous grooves, sizzling guitar licks, powerful vocals, and tasty keyboards. with bits of blues, folk, and of course heavy rock. Basically most of these tracks have a little bit of everything. Those who were upset at the lack of Sherinian's keyboards the first time around will be happy to know he's heard quite often here, adding plenty of tones, colors, and even solo spots to these songs.

If it's old school hard rock you crave, you can't go wrong with this latest from Black Country Communion. With not a bad track to be found here, this is just wall-to-wall quality from these veterans, who have given new definition to the term 'supergroup'. Easily one of the best releases here in 2011.

» Reader Comments:

Black Country Communion: 2
Posted by Jordan Farquharson on 2012-09-28 20:07:56
My Score:

The last song on BCC 2 is called Cold, not Crawl.

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