Joe Bonamassa: Black Rock New CD Release – Review


With this album we wanted to explore a ‘world’ feeling, and this was the inspiration behind going to record in Greece and using some of the best Greek musicians to add a little flavor to a couple of tracks. But it’s by no means a ‘world’ album. We wanted Joe’s usual youthful and energetic tones to play alongside the worldly vibes of the Greek bouzouki and clarion… ~ Kevin Shirley (producer)

The First Weekend of Spring 2010

It’s Sunday afternoon and as usual I have the house to myself. After the long winter season I can finally open the windows and let the temperate breeze flow throughout my home. Don’t you just love spring? So this weekend I decided to work on some projects around the house… well… uhh… perhaps attempt to anyway. I also wanted to spend a little time writing and put together this week’s blog post. Furthermore it keeps me in touch with my many friends and readers of The Blues Blogger.

Just as I took a deep breath to savor the splendor of the day, my obnoxious next door neighbors from hell stormed out their front door to raise havoc. Their shrill oblivious presence and resulting backlash of aggravated barking dogs from all over the area, began turning my calm mood into a stressful state of affairs.

Now normally when this situation happens, I’ll put my earphones on my MP3 player and listen to some music to block out the noise. But the level of distraction was too much this time. And I really didn’t want to close my windows, so I decided to fight back for a change…

Instead of silently listening to my MP3 version of Bonamassa’s upcoming release Black Rock, I grabbed my promotional copy of the CD and made sure every window was open in the house. Cranking the volume on my audio system to levels I’ve never explored before, my mood eventually shifted from tension to joy; generating a vibe that would rock my entire neighborhood.

The sound levels sent perplexed head cocked glares from my annoying neighbors; dragging their knuckles as they eventually made their way back inside. Yes, the music was loud, and I mean LOUD. I haven’t played tunes at that volume for a long time, but it was absolutely awesome. I could not have chosen a better album to unleash my frustration.

And now the day would once again be mine!

Black Rock

This is the third post I’ve written on blues rocker Joe Bonamassa. My previous articles covered his DVD Live From The Royal Albert Hall and his last studio recording The Ballad of John Henry.

The release of Black Rock in a few days sees Bonamassa once again team up with producer Kevin Shirley. (Black Crowes, Aerosmith) The album was produced in Santorini, Greece and named after Black Rock Studios where it was recorded. Like several of his previous releases, Bonamassa combines original tunes and covers. This time he does renditions of songs previously recorded by Bobby Parker, John Hiatt, Jeff Beck, Leonard Cohen, Otis Rush, Willie Nelson, James Clark and Blind Boy Fuller.

Black Rock begins by knocking the roof off with two heavy blues numbers, “Steal Your Heart Away” and then “I Know a Place.” These songs set a thunderous tone and just the right vibe for the present circumstances I mentioned above. Joe adds some classy slide playing on the edgy third track “When The Fire Hits The Sea,” and “Quarryman’s Lament,” has some exceptional acoustic playing with a nice Mediterranean touch.

I really enjoyed the updated take on “Spanish Boots,” Beck’s tune from 1969’s Beck-Ola with Rod Stewart. I found myself replaying this track several times. “Bird on a Wire” is going to surprise a few people who are familiar with Leonard Cohen’s song. With all that Greek flavoring it makes for a distinctive sound indeed.

Otis Rush’s “Three Times a Fool” takes things back to a more traditional vibe as well as “Night Life”, the song that re-unites Bonamassa with blues legend B.B. King. (It was B.B. who let Joe open for him over 20 years ago when he was only 12 years old.)
(Photo by: Christy Goodwin)


Bonamassa continues to gain a reputation as the new master of blues rock guitar. However with each new release, people are starting to take notice of his voice. It just keeps getting better. This is very apparent on his Zeppelin-esque “Wandering Earth.” And “Blue And Evil,” two out of the five Bonamassa penned tunes featured on Black Rock. Exploring new avenues another original “Athens to Athens” helps lead us down his road to discovery.

With the closer “Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind,” Joe cools things off in a short playful manner with an acoustic version of Blind Boy Fuller’s classic; a really nice way to cap off a thoroughly enjoyable listen… With the news of Black Country, Joe’s latest collaboration with Jason Bonham, Glen Hughes, Derek Sherinian, the future just keeps looking brighter for this hard working rising star.

After Several Listens to Black Rock

All was silent once again. Off in the distance I heard someone shout, “You Rock!” Hmm interesting, perhaps there was some hope after all… I couldn’t help but chuckle to myself thinking how during the course of my little scene, I was not only able to write this post, but also accomplish a few of the chores around the house and enjoy myself along the way. Once again proving the motivating force music can play on a person’s mood. If you’re a Joe Bonamassa fan then Black Rock, his 10th solo album, should be right up your alley, and perhaps make your afternoon that much brighter too.

How familiar are you with Bonamassa’s impressive 20 year career? Are there any highlights you’d like to comment on? I’d love to hear your feedback! If you enjoyed this post, then spread the word. If you looking for more information and updated touring schedule, then you can visit Joes’ site by clicking here.

The Blues Blogger

Latest Tour Dates
March 2010

23 – Fort Worth, TX – Bass Performance Hall
24 – Austin, TX – Paramount Theatre
25 – Stafford, TX – Stafford Center
26 – Oklahoma City, OK – Civic Center Music Hall
27 – Fayetteville, AR – Walton Arts Center
31 Sydney, Australia – The Factory Theatre

April 2010

01 – Melbourne, Australia – The Corner Hotel
02 – Australia – Byron Bay Blues Fest
03 – Australia – Byron Bay Blues Fest
07 – Tokyo, Japan – Liquid Room
08 – Osaka, Japan – Big Cat
15 – New York, NY – Town Hall
16 – Boston, MA – Wilbur Theatre
17 – Peekskill, NY – Paramount Center for the Arts
18 – Wilmington, DE – Grand Opera House
20 – Albany, NY – Hart Theatre at The Egg
21 – Red Bank, NJ – Count Basie Theatre
23 – Washington, DC – Lisner Auditorium
24 – Glenside, PA – Keswick Theatre
25 – Harrisburg, PA – Sunoco Performance Theater
29 – Cleveland, OH – Ohio Theatre
30 – Lexington, KY – Lexington Opera House

May 2010

01 Huntington, WV – Keith Albee Theatre
02 Dayton, OH – Victoria Theatre
04 Merrillville, IN – Star Plaza Theatre
05 Carbondale, IL – Shryock Auditorium
07 Iowa City, IA – Englert Civic Theatre
08 Omaha, NE – Orpheum Theatre
19 Stockholm, Sweden – Cirkus
25 Oslo, Norway – Rockefeller Music Hall
28 United Kingdom – HMV London Hammersmith Apollo
29 United Kingdom – Rotherham Magna Centre
30 United Kingdom – Bournemouth International Centre
31 United Kingdom – Birmingham National Indoor Arena

Tags: , , , ,

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
13 years ago

You turned me on to Joe Bonamassa and I turned my kids on to him…love him and definitely getting the new CD. I was laughing hysterically when I read about your knuckle-dragging neighbors — got to the Blue Evil video and could just imagine listening to it at full blast. Wanted to get up and do house work…but it’s 10 to midnight and I really need to sleep.

Thanks — this was great!

Marcel Lemieux/starflight

An interesting new much variety..very nice…he is more than a rising star..he has awesome talent and any big time musician can only acknowledge that.this guy has work so hard to flourish as he has become..bravo .And i had to smile also because when my upstairs neighbour is in a fit ,i too crank up the volume and all is well after..take care and keep up the good work.

13 years ago

I love Joe Bonamassa… what a kick-ass blog you wrote about him…You are awesome my friend..

13 years ago

Just saw Joe for this first time live last night! That boy can rock!! I will agree with BB that his voice is getting better. Thanks for turning me on to Joe!

13 years ago

Thanks for the post just found out about this guy Joe Bonamassa ..I never heard of him till now man I love his music plus his double neck guitar, just wondering does he ever do any gigs in UK….I can’t see any on his site.

13 years ago

Love the blog – great work! I found you linked off JB’s site. I met Joe 2 weeks ago prior to the show in Phoenix – I wrote a review of the LIVE show – read about it on my blog at Keep posting my friend – you have a great thing going.

13 years ago

…. lol…. great personal touch…. I used to “crank it up” when I had my audio system in Colorado…. I don’t have anything near that good anymore !! Great review of a great blues guitarist and legend in the making…. Joe Bonamassa !! Thanks again BluesBlogger !!

peter wolf
13 years ago

The anticipation of a concert and his first time in Australia
was building immensely. The evening finally arrived, and
if i can use a Jethro Tull word “My God” did he deliver!!??
In a small venue estimated crowd of about 350 packed to
the hilt, it was an outstanding, mind boggling performance! 130 minutes of full on energy!! Highlights
there were many!! I have been to so many concerts in my time, this one would have to rate in the top 10. It’s one concert i will never ever forget, brilliant!

13 years ago

great blog with some new music i have not heard thanks as also!!!

13 years ago

I saw Joe last night at Manhattan’s town hall. He was incredible. He played for 2 hours, a selection of old and new, and while I think he’s terrific, the only thing I didn’t like was his version of Bird on a Wire. I didn’t think that song lends itself easily to his treatment, but that’s just my opinion.
Appreciate your well-informed review of Black Rock.

13 years ago