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Friday, December 14, 2012

Black Country Communion's "Afterglow"- Close the Show

Both because of my admiration of Glenn Hughes' work with Deep Purple and Black Sabbath and the reccomendations of some very knowlegeable Rock fans and friends, I've given each of the three BCC releases a few listens. My conclusion is that Black Country Communion is another waste of time in a long line for a man who remains one of best musicians the Rock genre has ever known (and if you don't know I'm talking about Hughes, you need to stop reading). Put it this way, I'm glad I borrowed the cds, as I hate paying for reheated drivel.

Afterglow for me both underscores and adds further firefuel to the above conclusion. Not one of the BCC albums is much different songwriting-wise from what Hughes wrote on, say, the "Soul Mover" album, in fact a lot of it is the same from not only a structural but atmospheric standpoint, just a stiff notch down in quality. This last is especially bad news, since "Soul Mover" was mostly reheated Hendrix/Zeppelin/Purple/Wonder to begin with...sound familiar?

Bonamassa is definitely part of the problem; not in small part due to the fact that he seems to experience the same lack of personality assertion in the songwriting department as he does in his guitar playing. This makes him a far more pronounced non-entity in the Rock field than the Blues, since the former is pretty much based on aggressive ego-assertion. Every solo he takes on Afterglow...shoot, on ANY of the BCC albums, I missed out on and had to rewind later in order to make sure there was one. It's like he's not really there, if you get my meaning. The Bonham drums are about the same as they've ever been, which means they could have been played similarly by about a hundred other percussionists out there, and I'm being kind. The production on Afterglow isn't much of an improvement on the others, meaning it's bad, bad, bad. Everything sounds the same, and considering that the base itself is almost cartoonishly banal, it's high time to hang this "supergroup" up.

I can't wrap up this review without noting that Glenn Hughes' voice often sounds quite good, especially considering the recreational wear it's gone through over the years (not to mention his tendency toward the acetylyne torch approach). It's amazing that he sounds this great, especially when so many other heavy rock masters from the 70s barely have their original tone anymore (Gillan and Coverdale anyone?).Glenn always sounded best to me when he largely eschewed the Funk influence and focused on belting out the straight Rock, and he does almost as good here as he did on Sabbath's Seventh Star (the latter was in my mind the best he ever sounded prior to Afterglow).

So, it you are a fanatic for Glenn Hughes's voice and just can't get enough of the sound of ancient Purple/Zep/Hendrix (no matter how microwaved), I definitely reccomend this album. As for me, I give it a simple "blah" rating, not terrible, but not good or worth buying either. Two out of five stars.

Or, to put it more concisely, looking forward to the afterglow of no more Black Country Communion.