Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion (2010)

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by Pico

When I heard at the beginning of this year that Joe Bonamassa had formed a supergroup with some other heavy hitters and that these guys were in the studio making a record, I gotta admit, I was pretty excited. Bonamassa has pretty much reached the pinnacle and done it all as a solo blues-rock musician; joining a band as a peer seemed to be the logical new frontier for a former prodigy who has done nothing but fulfill the promise he showed at an early age (and then some). Tomorrow, that self-titled record is out, introducing a band you might be hearing a lot of in the coming months.

First, though, about the band itself. If you like metal, there’s a new name to remember: Black Country Communion.

Black Country Communion is the conception of Bonamassa’s producer, the renowned Kevin Shirley, who witnessed Bonamassa rip it up on stage with bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes on stage last November. Hughes, called “The Voice of Rock,” earned that distinction from stints with Trapeze, Deep Purple (from 1973-76) and notable appearances on other metal act albums, such as Black Sabbath’s Seventh Star. On top of all that, Hughes is a very nimble bass player who knows how to add the right layer underneath massive guitar riffs and work in sync with the drummer.

Once Shirley sold Bonamassa and Hughes on the idea, he brought in Jason Bonham, who fills in for his late father whenever there is a Led Zeppelin reunion show and a fine drummer in his own right, and keyboardist Derek Sherinain, who was a member of the prime prog rock band Dream Theater from 1994 to 1999. Both Bonham and Sherinian have gone on to perform with some of the other biggest names in rock. Once those guys came on board, the new band quickly got to work on a new record of a dozen originals by Bonamassa and Hughes.

Given the overall pedigree, this wasn’t destined to be a blues band; it’s an Anglo-American hard rock band. Best of all, it’s the hard rock from its golden age of the 70s, when Deep Purple, Sabbath, Boston, Bon Scott-era AC/DC, etc., dominated the genre with memorable and anthemic riffs and buckets of attitude, while retaining some strains of blues and soul. If anyone is wondering if Hughes has lost any of his range, power and passion, he quickly dispatches all doubt on the calling card first track “Black Country.” However, its Hughes’ rumbling bass that gets the song going, and Bonamassa unleashes the dogs when it’s solo time. The climax comes when Hughes and Bonamassa engage in vocal/guitar call and response “Whole Lotta Love” style; no surprise that Bonham knew just what to do there. The strong start continues with the hard grooving advance single “One Last Soul” (see YouTube below) where Hughes alternates singing in two octaves. “The Great Divide” continues the roll with Bonamassa’s blues inflected attack and heavy riffs, as Hughes screams “I’m gonna let my freak flag fly” much more defiantly than David Crosby ever did. “Down Again” brings out the Bad Company brand of British blues-drenched rock. “Beggarman” is relentless like rolling thunder; Hughes and Bonham form a tenacious bass-drums combination, and Bonamassa kills it like a supercharged Jimmy Page, as he does just about everywhere else.

Bonamassa, in case you didn’t know, isn’t such a bad singer himself, and he takes lead vocal duties for “The Revolution In Me,” while sharing the mic with Hughes for “Song Of Yesterday” and the concluding “Too Late For The Sun.” That last song is an eleven minute epic, and I’m not sure why it needed to run that long (although Bonham put in his best work on this song). But my list of quibbles with this record begin and end there.

There’s a limited tour planned for 2011 but it remains to be seen if Bonamassa, Hughes, Bonham and Sherinian are in it for the long run; how well this record is received will play a big part in those plans for sure. What’s clear from their first album is that they put in some seriously good work putting together a set of songs that don’t all sound the same and gets everyone involved and playing to their strengths. This sounds in no way like a half-hearted effort by a bunch of big egos; this sounds instead like a firm declaration to the Green Days and Foo Fighters out there that the old school hard rock guys are back. With a vengeance.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron

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