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Over the past couple of years Joe Bonamassa has become one of my favourite artists, He's an incredibly prolific artist and has released eleven solo albums in 12 years and has released another two in the Supergroup Black Country Communion and also released an album with Beth Hart. His rise to Child Prodigy to Guitar Great has been an incredible story of success and he's widely regarded as one of the greatest guitarists of them all with major praise coming from his peers. I have already reviewed a number of his releases already but this review is of his 2007 release which was his sixth solo album.
The album is mostly of covers but also features four original songs, the covers are mainly of lesser known Blues and Rock tracks and the album was produced by Kevin Shirley who has produced many of Joe Bonamassa's albums including those with Black Country Communion, the band that Shirley helped put together. Sloe Gin was released on 21st August 2007. The album features a familiar touring line up of
Carmine Rojas - bass, Anton Fig - drums, percussion & Rick Melick - keyboards, tabla. Bogie Bowles also appears as drummer on "Seagull" and also plays the Hammered Dulcimer on some tracks.
1.) Ball peen hammer
This is an excellent opener, it's a cover of Chris Whitley and has a catchy feel and as the drums kick in with the guitar melodies it's a very good track with Joe Bonamassa's vocals coming through well and the band also take on a decent amount of responsibility with some good drumming and backing. I like the way the song progresses and the backing strings really add a nice touch alongside the guitar and keyboards. This is a very good song which slows and builds very well indeed.
2.) One of these days
This track covers the Ten years after original, It has a great Blues Rock feel with some excellent and vibrant guitar parts as well as an aggressive bass and drum part which adds to the feel. There's some excellent guitar work here from Joe Bonamassa who also showcases his fine voice too. This is one of the best tracks on the album. The song is actually a cover version of one that Joe Bonamassa co wrote with Alvin Lee. I love the progression and the solo towards the end is superb stuff.
This is a cover of a Bad Company song and starts gently with some electro acoustic melodies and slide guitar with Joe's tender vocals expressing well. The song is one of the more relaxed tracks on the album but still has it's excellent progressive moments where it gets louder and the drums build with the electric guitar. The track has an excellent ending which starts with a nice piano part then the guitar comes in to complete things. Good stuff.
4.) Dirt in my pocket
This is an excellent Blues Rock track which is one of the four originals on the album, It's a vibrant up tempo track with some excellent slide guitar parts and a lovely progression between verses where the song builds then slows and then picks up again. Joe's vocals show an excellent progression from his earlier work, he's not only a great guitarist but also a very polished singer too. It's one of the best originals on the album and a nice addition.
5.) Sloe Gin
I did not realise that this was indeed a cover. The original was by Tim Curry and was released in 1978, Having listened to that version I have to say that Joe Bonamassa's Cover version is far superior. The styles are different and although Curry's original isn't a bad song I am a massive fan of Joe Bonamassa's version which is mesmeric live and has some great vocals and some trademark guitar brilliance from Joe. It's one of his best songs and is such a live favourite that the Arena goes almost silent when he performs it. A Superb version indeed. The track was written by the hugely well known Bob Ezrin & Michael Kamen.
6.) Another kind of love
This is another vibrant up tempo track, Joe's guitar work is on display here with some fine licks and hooks. The track is a cover of a John Mayall song and I have to say that Joe Bonamassa is a much better singer than John Mayall. I love the way the song progresses. It's a real toe tapper and has some really excellent guitar work which you just want to keep going for a little bit longer. This is One of the best tracks on the album for sure. Great stuff.
7.) Around the bend
This track sees Joe Bonamassa take on more of a story teller role here, It's a lovely acoustic track with some tender vocals and it shows another side to Joe Bonamassa's music with people linking him to the incredible guitar solos, here's a subtle yet very effective acoustic ballad with emotive vocals and meaning. this is the sign of his overall talent. Of course there's a lovely sedated slide solo towards the end which just tops things off wonderfully well.
8.) Black Night
This is a fine cover of the original by Charles Brown. It's a dark meandering Blues Rock track which has a real bite. Joe's vocals are emotive and very strong and the guitar is wonderfully with some fine building of the song. This is another track vying for best on the album. It builds wonderfully well and the guitar work on the track is just sensational, so much so that like all the best guitar solos of this kind it makes you want to move your mouth to the sound of the guitar.
9.) Jelly Roll
This is another different side to Joe Bonamassa with a riff heavy electro acoustic joy with some fine guitar melodies and expressive vocals. The original was by John Martyn and although this is not up there with the best tracks on the album it still shows the variety of Joe Bonamassa as a musician and singer. It's certainly a very good track.
This is the penultimate track of the album and also the third of four original songs. There's gentle electro acoustic and Joe's vocals are expressive about longing for Richmond. I really like the way the song builds and it really tells a story. It's a well laid out track and one that doesn't need an amazing solo to have an impact. It's a very strong and laid back track.
This is the final track on the album and it follows a similar path to the previous track, It's another laid back electro acoustic track which builds well and has an interesting beat which combines well with the plucks of the guitar strings. The playing becomes more aggressive and faster and this results in an interesting sound which is unlike much of the album, This works really well and shows something different again from his usual stuff. The only instrumental on the album.
This is an excellent album from Joe Bonamassa who is without a doubt one of the most brilliantly prolific artists of all time. The amount of great stuff he has done in the last twelve years is extraordinary and all the more so considering he's just turned 35. Sloe Gin contains some outstanding work and the best on here will be amongst his best works when he hangs up his Guitar, The pick of the album has to be the fine title track which is just astonishing live. This is a great album that showcases the range, ability and vocal talent of Joe Bonamassa in spades.