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Supergroups have been around for decades and there are scant few that have lasted more than two albums. There are several reasons for this but perhaps the biggest reason is the time that is needed to concentrate on it away from the band members solo and other projects as we all know they wouldn't be able to be considered a supergroup without each individuals standing as a solo artist or as a musician. One supergroup has become my favourite new band and that honour goes to Black Country Communion who comprise of Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham. The foursome are expertly guided by record producer Kevin Shirley who was the brainchild of the band after a performance between Hughes and Bonamassa as well as having produced albums with all four. They formed in 2009 and released their first album in 2010 which was quickly followed in 2011 with a second and this year they have just released their third album which has just been released and is the subject of this review. Black Country Communion are a loud and brash mix of Blues Rock and 70s Classic Rock.
This is the third studio album from the Supergroup and has coincided with a difficult period for the Band in finding the time to go on Tour in support of the album. Joe Bonamassa has become a massive name and is embarking on a World Tour and there have been difficult discussions about the future of the Band as Glenn Hughes in particular really wants to tour the album yet schedule problems have scuppered plans. Afterglow was released on 29th October 2012 and features Glenn Hughes as the main songwriter with two collaborations with Jason Bonham, Hughes also had issues with the schedule conflicts as he was left to write much of the album where Joe Bonamassa had contributed more to the previous two albums. All members had a say in the Music though and Kevin Shirley co wrote the music for two tracks. That's the background but how does it sound?. Is it on a par with the first two albums?.
1.) Big Train
This is an excellent opener which has a crashing drum intro like a classic Led Zepellin track courtesy of John Bonham's son Jason who is the drummer. The track is vibrant, fast paced and so catchy. The excellent backing vocals compliment Glenn Hughes' powerful vocals well and the music is excellent and it leads up to some fantastic guitar work from Joe Bonamassa. There's some terrific musicianship from all four members here as they each have their moment to shine. This track is a wonderful opener to the album which shows exactly what you'll hear throughout the album. Damn good.
2.) This Is Your Time
This is a brash and very riff driven track which has a simple yet very effective drum beat and some catchy rock riffs from both Hughes and Bonamassa. Hughes is on lead vocals as usual and the song builds extremely well as the combined riffs from Hughes and Bonamassa blend with Sherinian's keyboards to create a fine soundstage backed by Jason Bonham's drums. I really like the way the song develops and Hughes vocals are excellent again. The track is topped off by another fine guitar solo from Joe Bonamassa in which he goes old school with a hardcore and heavier Eric Clapton like part.
3.) Midnight Sun
This is another excellent tour de force with some excellent riffs and a fast pace. I really love the way the song breaks down and then the pace picks up again. Hughes' voice is powerful and as good as ever and the bass riffs he provides are excellent too. This track is another which builds wonderfully, Joe Bonamassa comes in towards the end with some excellent rapid fire solo work which is backed wonderfully by the bass guitar from Glenn Hughes and the frantic drumming from Jason Bonham. Derek Sherinian also provides a great backing on the keys. Excellent stuff.
This track features crashing drums from the off and some very catchy bass and electric guitar riffs courtesy of Glenn Hughes and Joe Bonamassa respectively. The vocals are amongst the most catchy one the album and as a result this is one of the more sing along moments on the album. It's also one of the heaviest moments on the album with some fabulously up tempo riffs and melodies. I love the way they all pin together. As expected Joe Bonamassa comes in to put the finishing touch on the track with a fabulous guitar solo which takes the track to another level when followed by Derek Sherinian's great keyboard solo.
5.) Cry Freedom
One of the tracks which is very 70s influenced, Hughes vocals are very ACDC and Joe Bonamassa also comes in with vocals too. The two sing excellently together and their voices compliment each other. Joe's guitar work is again excellent and this is a fabulously worked return to the 70s Rock feel. Joe Bonamassa doesn't sing on this album as much as he did on the first two but what he brings vocally on this track is excellent as is his guitar work which runs throughout track. This is another excellent track which features a lovely break down which starts up again with Hughes' fabulous Rock vocals. Excellent stuff.
We come to the Title track of the album here, It's a slower track than much of the album and has a lovely soft opening with a simple guitar melody from Bonamassa and some cymbals from Bonham. Hughes vocals are beautiful and show the fantastic range that he still has. I love the way the song develops and each member plays their part terrifically. Once the song is in full flow it's a riff laden special with some terrific breakdowns and gentle keyboard tones from Sherinian. One of the most ambitious tracks musically and a terrific track all round. Just superb. This track really shows the Beauty and range that they are capable of.
At just over four minutes this is the shortest song on the album, Black Country Communion songs are usually around six or seven minutes or sometimes even more but this is another excellent track which gets in the fast paced riffs and crashing drums with Hughes' focused vocals being performed excellently and they sound different in parts to other tracks on the album which shows the range he has in his voice. This is another fine track which showcases the musicianship of the band and is topped off by a really fine guitar solo from Joe Bonamassa.
8.) The Circle
This is another track which has a slower opening and is a fantastic ballad which has an extended instrumental intro before the lovely vocals from Glenn Hughes come in. This track is another great example of how good they break down a track and then build again. Much of the track is at a slower pace but they then build to a heavier pace when Hughes' vocals soar. This is an excellent track which showcases the talent of the band musically. It's the longest song on the album at just over seven minutes and there's not one second of filler. I love the guitar solo from Joe Bonamassa which really just tops things off.
9.) Common Man
This track is another track which is firmly steeped in the 70s. There are some great riffs and expressive vocals from Hughes and he's backed well vocally by Bonamassa and Bonham. It's not one of the quickest tracks on the album but has a firm Rock feel with crashing drums and extended vocals. Glenn Hughes, Jason Bonham, Derek Sherinian and Joe Bonamassa all provide some terrific solo work on this track as they all get their chance to shine which is rare in a normal band but not necessarily in a supergroup. The standout on this track is Joe Bonamassa's guitar work.
10.) The Giver
This track has some nice melodies which work well with the relaxed feel. Glenn Hughes' vocals are relaxed and show great emotion. I really like the way this one develops too as the track continues along at a decent pace and Hughes' expressive vocals are detailed and are backed by some excellent relaxed musicianship. This is one of two tracks which Kevin Shirley co wrote the Music for. The track soars towards the end and is topped off with some excellent guitar work from Joe Bonamassa which firmly takes the song to another level. Excellent stuff.
The final song on the album is a very catchy affair indeed, It has a dark riff which backs Hughes' fine powerful vocals and Joe Bonamassa's licks are excellent as is the drumming from Jason Bonham which features many cymbal crashes. Derek Sherinian provides some excellent keyboard work which acts as a build up to the final part of the song which features some fine solo work between Joe Bonamassa and Derek Sherinian which is backed wonderfully by Bonham's crashing drums and Glenn Hughes' Bass. This is a fine end to the album which really shows off their fine musicianship. Terrific.
The album also includes a Bonus DVD which features a forty five minute documentary about the Band and the process of recording the third album. It features interviews with the Band and actual studio footage of the Band putting the album together with Kevin Shirley who does a great Job producing the album and working things out. The DVD also includes four music videos of the Band. These are "Afterglow", "This is your time", "Confessor" and finally "Midnight Sun". This is a decent addition to the album and shows how they went about the process of recording the album. It also shows how much respect they have for each other as Musicians which is ultimately why they came together as a Band. Maybe more artists should include a Bonus DVD like this to show their recording process.
This is a fine third album from Black Country Communion. They have become my favourite current Band and I hope they continue despite question marks over the Bands future due to schedule conflicts. When you put together musicians of the quality of Joe Bonamassa, Glenn Hughes, Derek Sherinian and Jason Bonham you don't always get the final product but They really are a special band. Afterglow represents another excellent album which takes the tally to three albums in three years for Black Country Communion. I have seen Joe Bonamassa twice now and would absolutely love to see Black Country Communion live. It will be special so I hope they can work out enough time in their schedules to hold a Tour. It would be such a shame if they split because of that as they really are something special together.