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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Joe Bonamassa


Review by Gary Hill

This is the brand new release from Joe Bonamassa, and he's outdone himself. While I can't say that I've heard every album he's done, I've followed his career quite a bit. This disc is stronger than any of the rest I've heard. The range of music, from pure blues to classic rock, jazz and more is wide and satisfying. The quality of the songs is what really puts this one over the top, though. If you've ever dug Joe Bonamassa, pick this up. You will love it. If you are a fan of great blues based guitar playing and music, and haven't heard him yet, stop waiting and get this.

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Track by Track Review
Evil Mama

The drums that open this make me think of Led Zeppelin. The cut works out to a cool riff driven number from there. The horns bring a soulful element to the song. This is a powerhouse piece that just oozes cool. There are some smoking hot hooks built into this. It also has some particularly meaty instrumental work. I love the harder rocking jam later in the track. It is packed full of 1970s cool. Bonamassa puts in some particularly expressive guitar soloing on that movement, too.

King Bee Shakedown
Energetic and rocking, this is another retro flavored number that works really well. The horns are magic and the whole song just screams with power and cool guitar playing. The jamming later in the piece is inspired and potent.
Molly O'
The guitar riff on this is so meaty. It has a lot of that Zeppelin kind of vibe to it. This whole cut is just so powerful and so mean in tone. It's one of the highlights of the set. There are some cool changes on this thing and Bonamassa's guitar playing packs so much emotion.
Deep in the Blues Again
With a real 1970s rock vibe at its heart, this feels well tied to things like The Allman Brothers. This is a strong tune, but falls a bit back because there is just so much great material here.
Self-Inflicted Wounds
Slow moving and dramatic, a classic rock sound merges with the bluesy textures on this cut. It's particularly evocative and powerful. It's another highlight of the set. Bonamassa really makes his guitar sing on this cut. The jam at the end of the cut makes me think of Robin Trower to some degree.
Pick Up The Pieces
An old school jazzy blues texture is on the bill here. This is a bit quirky and quite cool. This is like a tasty slab of early twentieth century jazz club magic.
The Ghost of Macon Jones
Blues based rocking sounds are on the menu here. This has a cool driving vibe and really works well. The jamming mid-track takes on a bit of a psychedelic texture and is just plain magical.
Just 'Cos You Can Don't Mean You Should
The blues that drives this number is purely classic. This makes me think of B.B. King to a large degree. I love Bonamassa's guitar work, but everything about this is top-notch. It's another highlight of the set and just packs so much power and emotion. The organ solo brings some retro magic, too.
There's more of a down-home blues vibe on the acoustic guitar based opening here. The cut has a bit of that Southern rock element we heard before as it works out. It feels like something that would have been at home in the 1970s. There are some powered up sections here, and this cut just plain rocks. There is a decidedly Zeppelin like segment mid-song. The cut is quite dynamic and all powerful. It was a good choice to make this the title track because it's one of the best songs here. This is worth the price of admission all by itself.
I've Got Some Mind Over What Matters
Old school blues drives this number. While I don't think this is as strong as some of the rest, it's a return to the "meat and potatoes" of Bonamassa's repertoire. It's also a solid tune. It just has some tough competition here.
Stronger Now In Broken Places
Intricate acoustic guitar starts this number. Bonamassa's voice comes in over the top of that backdrop. This remains as a ballad from start to finish, but more instruments do come in to augment the guitar and voice arrangement, if only subtly. It's a great bit of a variety and a strong tune.
Love Is A Gamble
Old school blues in on display here. This is another that makes me think of the greats like B.B. King. It's a powerhouse number that's full of emotion.
Bonus Tracks


Black Roses

This has a mean guitar sound, feeling a lot like blues based hard rock. This is a classic tune with a lot of meat on its bones. It has some good hooks, too.

Stronger Now in Broken Places (Band Version)
I love the classic blues textures on this smoking hot number. It's slow moving and balladic, but it's also on fire with emotion and passion. As you might expect, the guitar solo is purely incendiary.
Somewhere Down the Road
This bluesy number is another classy one. It has plenty of classic rock in the mix, too. While the number is a bit restrained in terms of volume and pace, it's not missing anything in the intensity department. The evocative nature of the piece manages to pack that into the mix.
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