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Joe Bouchard

The Power of Music

Review by Gary Hill

Joe Bouchard is probably best known as one of the founding members of Blue Oyster Cult. This new solo album shows that he really has the chops outside of that outfit, too. I remember seeing the original lineup of the group way back when, and they had a spot in the guitar where each member of the group would leave his main instrument and pick up a guitar. It was five guitars jamming at the front of the stage for great effect. So, it should be no surprise that Bouchard can play guitar. He was the bassist in the band, so that instrument is a given. The thing is, other than some backing vocals, Bouchard plays everything here and does all the vocals. He is talented. As you might guess, a lot of this sounds like that band. That’s not a bad thing, nor an artificial one, either. He was one of the songwriters in the group, so his stuff should sound like that act. I like this album a lot. There is a good range of material. It’s fresh and yet familiar at the same time. He even includes a solo version of BOC’s “Career of Evil.”

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2016  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Walk with the Devil
The introductory section to this is intricate, mellow and quite pretty. It powers out from there to smoking hot riff rock. This does feel quite a bit like BOC in a lot of ways. That opening section returns at several points in the piece. There is a full mellow drop back for one of those. The lead guitar section near the end is smoking hot.
36 Strings
This mellower cut feels like the kind of thing that BOC did in the Agents of Fortune era. It’s really a classy cut with classic sounds. It’s mainstream and accessible, too.
Is He the Wolfman
Organ brings a retro edge to the introduction here, calling to mind Iron Butterfly or Vanilla Fudge. As the cut powers out from there some science fiction type sounds are heard. This is a killer fast paced rocker with a real old school texture. It’s also a lot of fun. It does have some more mainstream rock elements at play on some sections.
Power of Music
Now, this melodic rocker feels so much like Bouchard’s old band that it’s scary. This is such a cool tune. There is a reason (beyond the thematic element of the title) that he made this the title track. It’s definitely a real highlight. In fact, it might well be the best song here. This thing just rocks in such cool ways. It has some great hooks along with awesome shifts and changes.
Dusty Old Piano
Appropriately this starts with piano. It’s another that’s very much like something Bouchard would have done with BOC. It’s a mellower cut, landing in the general neighborhood of ballad. This builds out to some really soaring territory. It’s another highlight, really.
Story of the Blues Project
This rocker and roller is a lot of fun. It’s a bit “Johnny B. Goode.” It’s a bit hard rocking BOC. It’s all cool. It’s a toe-tapper with some great vocal hooks. This is a standout, too, but I don’t think it stands quite as tall as the last couple songs do.
Photographic Evidence
This is a mainstream rocker. It’s very much a BOC type of tune. It is quite effective, too. I dig the vocal hooks, and the whole piece is strong.
Touring Age
This is an instrumental. It is based essentially on keyboards and drums. There are atmospheric elements. There is some melodic piano. This is a very jazzy number in a lot of ways. It’s not until around the four minute mark, during a different electronic section, that some bass joins. Still, it’s understated. The groove grows out gradually from there. The piece gets more rocking in the mix as synthesizer and guitar both solo over the top.
Career of Evil
Bouchard turns in a smoking hot rendition of the BOC classic here. I’ve always loved the tune, and this is a great version. It’s a bit heavier, but retains a lot of the charm of the BOC take on the piece.
 
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