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Black Country Communion

Afterglow

Review by Larry Toering

First of all, this has been a band I’ve supported heavily over the last three years or so. Amazingly, this is their third album in that time period. On this effort they managed to make a more progressive album, but will it be their last? That is the question of late, and if so, perhaps the order of these three albums could use a different running. It's hard to say, but one thing's for sure, Black Country Communion have made their mark either way. This time out, Glenn Hughes brought to the table a bunch of songs that weren't originally intended for this group. They were tracks he was working on for a solo album. That has an impact on this album because in many ways Hughes is absolutely dominating it, with the help of Jason Bonham. The drummer does sound like the one with the most input and drive (outside of Hughes). Not only does Bonham come on strong throughout the disc, but some of it he wrote, as well. Joe Bonamassa and Derek Sherinian put on stellar performances as always, but seem not as involved as they could be. This CD just might be the sleeper of the bunch and wind up with the longest following of the three, but any truth to that is yet to be seen.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Big Train
They start off with quite the bang here, with  very Zeppelin like precision drumming, and an overall this is an energetic opener. But the rest of the band and Hughes sound more like they're somehow battling against each other on this one.  Hughes does have a different vocal approach than what the sound of the band would seem to indicate. That aside, it contains big grooves and a monster sized jazzy guitar solo that really saves the track. For me that's a testament for Bonamassa, as I take him best in relatively small doses, as brilliant as he can be.
This Is Your Time
A great effort is made here to get back to a more familiar BCC approach, and this one goes down well enough to be on either of the first two releases, easily. That’s in opposition to the opener which is in another zone altogether - not a bad one, just different. The voice of rock comes on rather strong here, but as usual it's more suited for funk and R&B factors. In this case, that calls for a big “so what?” because this is Hughes at his best standard in singing.
Midnight Sun
This is a little more progressive but still there is still a classic rock appeal to it. It features a quirky keyboard riff and a lot of shouting from Hughes, but all the elements of a good BCC track are contained here. It feels like it might have been better suited for their first album, though.  Make no mistake, it's a great tune, kind of like “Smokestack Woman,” but less energetic.
Confessor
The first single from the album finds itself in clean up position, as it does exactly that. I liken this to “The Outsider,” only better. This is great stuff, and so far the most impressive tune.
Cry Freedom
This is the kind of thing that really makes me wonder... as here they go into ZZ Top meets Humble Pie, and it just isn't the BCC vibe at all. It's a great tune, and it has a lot of cool parts, but between the two vocalists it misses something for me. It lacks that certain something that could otherwise make it work, but what that might be, is rather elusive.
Afterglow
Now this is much better, and a great fitting for the title of the album. I wouldn't exactly call this “epic,” but I would call it “absolutely sublime.” Some of their finest moments are to be found here, as Hughes sheds his feelings about how this band has progressed and what it means to him.
Dandelion
This sounds like it is intended to start off side two in style, with a very radio friendly vibe. In fact, it’s more accessible than most everything else on offer. I can see this one fitting on their debut, as well.
The Circle
This is likely the darkest number on the disc and another of those epic Hughes efforts. This time it comes without the heavy rock factors they brought to “Save Me,” from their second release. But this is in that same vein, only the emphasis is on Hughes, rather than the entire band. It plays along quite nicely and makes for one of the better tracks.
Common Man
Once again this is another of the highlights on the disc, and it's probably the most Deep Purple sounding BCC number. I can listen to this all day long. It's that good, and easily my favorite on this release.
The Giver
This is a much lighter thing altogether, with a much more of a “Song Of Yesterday” feel to it. Naturally, it too would sit well on the first album. I like the jazzy feel to this, something they could use a little more of  in their songs. It shows a much more diverse range for them, rather than the more blues and classic rock oriented tunes for which they're more well known.
Crawl
This is a fantastic closer with a very slithering vibe to it. That defines the title in an organic way like nothing I've ever heard. They close this anticipated set with another one of their best to these ears. There is just something right about this song, in conjunction with all of their others, and it contains all of the BCC elements balanced perfectly.

 

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