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Black Stone Cherry - Black To Blues, Vol. 2

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Black To Blues, Vol. 2

Black Stone Cherry

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The approval rating for Black Stone Cherry's rootsy covers EP Back to Blues in 2017 was high enough to warrant the Kentucky rockers giving it another try. Like its predecessor, the 25-plus-minute EP contains six reimagined blues standards. Playing these tunes are de rigueur repertoire for blues musicians; so here, the contrast in interpretation is a paramount guideline for evaluation. The opener is a case in point. Freddie King's "Big Legged Woman" is delivered with guest Yates McKendree's upright piano vamps creating a bridge to the past. The rest, however, is rave-up maximalism: Chris Robertson's snarling, overdriven wail above the electric guitar riffs and snare breaks as the rhythm section fiercely punches up the backdrop. Robert Johnson's "Me & the Devil Blues" sounds like it could have been done by Delbert McClinton during the late '70s. It's greasy and funky with McKendree's clavinet driving the band as John Fred Young's busy drumming gets frontloaded with hard-grooving breaks. Robertson's delivery is gritty and soulful. The real highlight, however is the cover of Otis Rush's "All Your Love (I Miss Love)." Its shuffle and shimmy are informed by Fleetwood Mac's original version of "Black Magic Woman," with spiky, swampy, dialoguing lead guitars that break into a I-IV-V stomp midway through. Howlin Wolf's "Down in the Bottom" is offered in double time and heavily informed by Cream's version of "Crossroads Blues," with a burning Hammond B-3 providing a punchy yet snaky vamp. Elmore James' "Early One Morning" is, in its opening moments, a seemingly faithful read of the original before it breaks down into boogie-fied Southern funk & roll. Young's popping breaks work in and around the pocket as Wells' and Robertson's guitars muscularly slice and dice above Jon Lawhon's bumping bassline before the swampy, all-out boogie returns after the bridge. The closer is a provocative reading of Son House's "Death Letter Blues." This arrangement, far from the haunted, pathos-laden original with acoustic guitar and vocals, is a grinding rocker led by spiky harmonica and Robertson's testifying vocal. Its mood is at once defiant and mortified as Wells cranks up his six-string and lets fly with some of the most biting work he's ever put on a record, with a dropout bridge led by McKendree's popping boogie woogie piano framing a metallic guitar vamp. Fans should gravitate toward the material on Back to Blues, Vol. 2 as a stopgap between Black Stone Cherry albums. These tracks are all firmly imprinted with the band's swaggering sonic signature: It's delivered raw, loud, proud, and stomping, with precious little dynamic variation. In short, it rocks. ~ Thom Jurek

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Black To Blues, Vol. 2

Black Stone Cherry

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1
Big Legged Woman
00:04:39

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Esrael Tolbert, Composer

2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records 2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

2
Me & The Devil Blues
00:04:15

Robert Johnson, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist

2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records 2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

3
All Your Love (I Miss Loving)
00:03:34

Otis Rush, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist

2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records 2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

4
Down In The Bottom
00:03:20

WILLIE DIXON, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist

2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records 2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

5
Early One Morning
00:04:11

Marshall Sehorn, Composer - ELMORE JAMES, Composer - Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist

2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records 2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

6
Death Letter Blues
00:05:42

Black Stone Cherry, MainArtist - Eddie J. House Jr., Composer

2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records 2019 Mascot Label Group/Mascot Records

Album Description

The approval rating for Black Stone Cherry's rootsy covers EP Back to Blues in 2017 was high enough to warrant the Kentucky rockers giving it another try. Like its predecessor, the 25-plus-minute EP contains six reimagined blues standards. Playing these tunes are de rigueur repertoire for blues musicians; so here, the contrast in interpretation is a paramount guideline for evaluation. The opener is a case in point. Freddie King's "Big Legged Woman" is delivered with guest Yates McKendree's upright piano vamps creating a bridge to the past. The rest, however, is rave-up maximalism: Chris Robertson's snarling, overdriven wail above the electric guitar riffs and snare breaks as the rhythm section fiercely punches up the backdrop. Robert Johnson's "Me & the Devil Blues" sounds like it could have been done by Delbert McClinton during the late '70s. It's greasy and funky with McKendree's clavinet driving the band as John Fred Young's busy drumming gets frontloaded with hard-grooving breaks. Robertson's delivery is gritty and soulful. The real highlight, however is the cover of Otis Rush's "All Your Love (I Miss Love)." Its shuffle and shimmy are informed by Fleetwood Mac's original version of "Black Magic Woman," with spiky, swampy, dialoguing lead guitars that break into a I-IV-V stomp midway through. Howlin Wolf's "Down in the Bottom" is offered in double time and heavily informed by Cream's version of "Crossroads Blues," with a burning Hammond B-3 providing a punchy yet snaky vamp. Elmore James' "Early One Morning" is, in its opening moments, a seemingly faithful read of the original before it breaks down into boogie-fied Southern funk & roll. Young's popping breaks work in and around the pocket as Wells' and Robertson's guitars muscularly slice and dice above Jon Lawhon's bumping bassline before the swampy, all-out boogie returns after the bridge. The closer is a provocative reading of Son House's "Death Letter Blues." This arrangement, far from the haunted, pathos-laden original with acoustic guitar and vocals, is a grinding rocker led by spiky harmonica and Robertson's testifying vocal. Its mood is at once defiant and mortified as Wells cranks up his six-string and lets fly with some of the most biting work he's ever put on a record, with a dropout bridge led by McKendree's popping boogie woogie piano framing a metallic guitar vamp. Fans should gravitate toward the material on Back to Blues, Vol. 2 as a stopgap between Black Stone Cherry albums. These tracks are all firmly imprinted with the band's swaggering sonic signature: It's delivered raw, loud, proud, and stomping, with precious little dynamic variation. In short, it rocks. ~ Thom Jurek

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