Black Country Communion

Album Review: Black Country Communion – 2

Only 9 months on from the release of their debut album, Black Country Communion are back with their second album, simply titled ‘2’. For an album that we knew was being written before their debut hit the stores, it comes as no surprise that Black Country Communion built upon exactly what they did in the first place and that was create an original hard rock album with a blues vibe that set them apart from every other rock band currently releasing music today.

Black Country Communion means a lot of things to Glenn Hughes, the first being that it allows him to return to the music he loves creating more than anything and secondly it gives him a source to lay tribute to his heritage of where he and Jason Bonham grew up in the British West Midlands. The British West Midlands or The Black Country as it is known, was no place for a man who wasn’t prepared to get his hands dirty and work endlessly and that is exactly what Hughes is working upon here. Coming from an era when bands would release two albums per year, Glenn Hughes wants people to realise that this is more than a super group, this is a band.

While ‘Black Country’ was certainly one of my top albums of 2010, the band rushed into writing and recording but now, with ‘2’, you can feel that there has been a lot more time given to each track, a lot more focus and work put in to make this album shine further than its predecessor.

Black Country Communion 2 ArtworkIf you think for a second you will get a welcomed introduction to ‘2’ then think again as ‘The Outsider’ comes out swinging and instantly displays that BCC have stepped up a gear. This is the song that tells you who they are and what every member is capable of with some incredible vocals from Hughes as well as his bass chords. Joe Bonamassa powerful guitar work with a pounding and epic performance behind the drum set from Jason Bonham. What helps this song apart from many others in the BCC catalogue is Derek Sherinian being let loose. One complaint I had about the band’s debut album was that Derek didn’t feature enough for me; although you knew he was there and you could hear him, I felt they could have utilised his skills a lot more and they have throughout ‘2’ by starting on ‘The Outsider’.

‘Man In The Middle’, one of my favourites from the album, has such a gritty, deep, dirty groove to it which makes me feel like I’m being escorted right into the Black Country. There is a quick change of pace from ‘Man In The Middle’ to ‘The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall’, one of the best songs you will listen to all year. With Bonamassa taking over vocal duties we’re introduced to the cleaner side of BCC with acoustic guitars carrying the song with stunning drum work from Bonham before Bonamassa takes control with his guitar later in the song. There are points in this song you know that given to the wrong set of musicians, they would have went too far with it but BCC knew exactly how to carry this song throughout and it is certainly one of the best songs ever recorded by any band.

The album moves onto the almost eight minute long Led Zeppelin inspired song ‘Save Me’. Partly written by Bonham during his time with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones when a Led Zeppelin reunion and future album may have been possible, Jason brought the song over to his new band mates and worked on it to form what is ‘Save Me’. While the track time may put you off at first, this song transforms into a whole new entity and opens a new world that you feel you can lose yourself within.

Songs ‘Smokestack Woman’ and ‘I Can See Your Spirit’ bring more of that harder, fuller, rock and roll groove sound that Hughes stated we would experience with this album and we also receive a faultless vocal performance wrapped up inside the deep atmosphere of ‘Faithless’.

Joe Bonamassa takes vocal control of ‘An Ordinary Son’ with Hughes accompanying him throughout the track and also taking over lead vocals for a part but it’s Joe’s velvet tones and the stripped back feel again that show he is more than capable of carrying the vocals of BCC. The keyboard work from Sherinian to accompany the chorus and help carry the song in the background is not to be missed for a second.

While you always feel that blues influence from Bonamassa throughout the album, ‘Little Secret’ is that deep blue’s track with Hughes taking vocal duties but it is during this song when Bonamassa just walks up to the centre of the stage and showcases why everyone views him as one of the best guitarists in the world today.

With Joe being given the limelight in ‘Little Secret’, Hughes steps up and lets his bass do the talking in ‘Crossfire’ with some great harmonies and solid performances from all the band especially Sherinian who can be heard a lot more in this song.

The album ends with ‘Cold’, the most personal song on the album to Hughes who has stated that this is his song to grieve for the friends he has lost. The near seven minute track runs a strong blues influence from Bonamassa and with Hughes vocals adding the emotion, Bonham and Sherinian create a perfect atmosphere to the song to perfect end the album.

Black Country Communion BandDoes ‘2’ surpass ‘Black Country’? Yes it does and I think that comes down to one simple reason, BCC are now a band. With ‘Black Country’ they were a super group coming out with an album to give us something special but at a rushed pace it never felt like there would be much more to follow. Yet many including myself said that until I interviewed him and it was then Glenn stated he was writing the second album and it became clear that they all wanted this just as much as he did and they were prepared to work for it.

‘2’ is the combination of experienced musicians who now complement one another better than ever before because they have more time to work together and it shows in the songs, you can’t help but hear how well they work together and now with Derek Sherinian being utilised more in each song, it gives them something extra.

This is much fresher BCC, at times a lot harder which brings off that Black Country feel to their music but the blues material along with the atmosphere they build within each song cannot be defeated. ‘Black Country’ was one of my top albums for 2010 and ‘2’ will certainly be one of my top albums for 2011.

Rating – 9


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Michael is the owner and creator of EspyRock. He is your general all round geek; sports fan; TV show fanatic. You can find him sharing his thoughts on his personal Twitter account. Contact Michael on Twitter or via Email.

One Response to “Album Review: Black Country Communion – 2”

  1. The Hammond in this album take you strait to Jon Lord and Deep Purple’s great melodic solos…

    Great album !!