Artists | Issues | CD Reviews | Interviews | Concert Reviews | DVD/Video Reviews | Book Reviews | Who We Are | Staff | Home

Joe Bonamassa

British Blues Explosion Live

Review by Gary Hill

There is no question that Joe Bonamassa was heavily influenced by the British Blues Movement. It could be argued, though, that the movement was one of the biggest influences on popular music in the last 70 years or so. Here Bonamassa and his band performed a show that was meant as a tribute to that movement. He covered songs from Jeff Beck, John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin and more. This is a killer double disc set with some amazing music. It's the companion to the video I reviewed in the last issue of MSJ.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
CD 1
Beck’s Bolero / Rice Pudding

The show opens with Bonamassa's version of Jeff Beck's retelling of the classical piece. The band start it without Bonamassa, and he joins after a bit bringing the guitar solo to life with style. There is some killer hard rocking texture as this piece shifts and grows. As you might expect, there is also plenty of killer blues rock built into this beast. Around the four minute mark there is an organ solo bringing a retro edge to this Jeff Beck two-fer. There is some powerhouse guitar work here, but you'd really expect no less, right?

Mainline Florida
Here Bonamassa turns his attention to Eric Clapton. This is a cool song, and Bonamassa and company deliver up a great version. The organ is tasty, and the guitar playing is impeccable.
Boogie With Stu
Led Zeppelin is on the menu on this track. They play this one as more of a pure boogie woogie number than the original. The piano really has a lot of magic to bring to the arrangement and is featured prominently. Of course, Bonamassa gets into another killer guitar solo on this tune.
Let Me Love You Baby
This isn't really a song from the British Blues movement, but it was originally done by Willie Dixon. Considering the fact that Dixon was a huge influence on the movement, this still fits. This seems more like Stevie Ray Vaughn's version to me. It's a smoking hot take on a killer tune. I like the dropped back mellower guitar solo section on this track, too.
Plynth (Water Down The Drain)
Here we get another tune from Jeff Beck. This is a fiery hard rocker that has a lot of energy and style. Bonamassa and his band deliver a killer live take on the piece.
Spanish Boots
We get another from Beck here. This has some killer blues rock at its heart, and this live telling is strong. This piece leans toward heavy metal at times. They also drop it to a mellower, almost jazzy break before bringing it back up with a lot of intensity.
Double Crossing Time
You can't really talk about the British blues movement without mentioning John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. This is a song from that outfit (co-authored by Clapton and Mayall). It's a killer hard edged blues rocker, and Bonamassa really shines on the guitar soloing here. In fact, this one soars higher than a lot of the rest here, really making this one of the highlights of the set.
Motherless Children
Although this song was originally written by Blind Willie Johnson, this rendition seems to be based on Eric Clapton's rendition of the song. Somehow, this almost sounds like Derek and the Dominoes to me. It's another great live telling of a strong number.
CD 2

Bringing us into Cream territory, I've always loved this song. This version is smoking hot. It's faithful, but also seems to update the piece just a bit. It is another highlight of this set. As always, I am fully enamored with the guitar solo on this cut. That jam features some amazing bass work, too.

Tea For One / I Can’t Quit You Baby
We're back into Led Zeppelin territory on this two-fer. That said, "I Can't Quit You Baby" was done by Zep but written by Willie Dixon. The familiar riff starts this off rather faithfully. They drop it to the mellower blues jam of "I Can't Quit You Baby" in style. Bonamassa's guitar really conveys a lot of emotion here. The tune almost feels like a B.B. King version of it. It's so strong and really just works so well.
Little Girl
John Mayall is back on the menu at this point in the show. This is a fun blues rocking number. It has a lot of old school rock and roll in the mix.
Another Eric Clapton tune (although it was written by Jerry Lynn Williams), this gets a pretty faithful live telling here. It works quite well in this performance.
Black Winter / Django
The first part of this two-fer is a guitar solo that is a Bonamassa original. It has some cool moods and textures built into it. In a lot of ways it feels like something that would have been quite at home in the heady days of the 1960s. The second half (also penned by Bonamassa) is a full-on psychedelic rocking jam that intensifies that 60s leaning. It drops later to a mellower motif that's again mostly guitar, creating some beautiful sounds. A full group crescendo ends this.
How Many More Times
The closer is another journey into Zep-land. It starts with a drum solo. As the guitar joins it brings a sound that's part psychedelia and part metal. The bring it out into the main riff of the song around the one minute mark. They do a killer live take on this classic jam. while this changes things around quite a bit, it still manages to capture all the magic of the original. This also includes a respectable length drum solo. Since Anton Fig is handling the sticks, you can also be sure that it's good. They bring it back to the song proper to end things in style.
Return to the
Joe Bonamassa Artist Page
Return to the
Black Country Communion Artist Page
Artists Directory

   Creative Commons License
   This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 United States License.

    © 2024 Music Street Journal                                                                           Site design and programming by Studio Fyra, Inc./