Review: Black Stone Cherry – ‘Black To Blues Vol.2’

Black Stone Cherry, the UK’s favourite sons of Kentucky, return with their latest homage to the blues genre; ‘Black To Blues Vol.2’, and continue where 2017’s first volume left off.

Beginning with a romp through Freddie King’s ‘Big Legged Woman’ (the guitar interplay sizzles), you get the impression that Black Stone Cherry were having some fun in the studio. BSC frontman Chris Robertson ushers in the track by introducing Yates McKendree on the keys, and he almost steals the show with his crucial keys work. But then the guitars let fly and that’s all she wrote. Robert Johnson’s ‘Me And The Devil Blues’ is up next and the subtle work from McKendree brings a funkier side to the BSC sound. The first guitar solo harks at a classic Allman Brothers Band vibe, before the keys come back in and lay down more grooves. The track is at its best however when the whole band explode into a monster jam. Smashing. Great. Nice.

The band stop off in Mississippi next for ‘All Your Love (I Miss Loving)’, an Otis Rush track that Peter Green allegedly based ‘Black Magic Woman’ on. Listen to the original and you can see where the comparison comes from. Black Stone Cherry add a sultry, shimmering surf-guitar tone to their version, and like the original, the change in tempo mid-song comes as a great surprise. The riffs on their take of Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘Down In The Bottom’ display a sense of urgency, and partnered with the powerful drums of John Fred Young, help propel the track along at a fair old pace. The slide work on the intro to Elmore James’s classic ‘Early One Morning’ is alone worth the price of whichever way you choose to consume the EP. The six tracks conclude with the familiar strains of ‘Death Letter Blues’, originally by Son House, familiar as you should recognise it from the 2014 live album ‘Thank You: Livin’ Live Birmingham.’

It’s six classic blues tracks, with a little Kentucky magic dust sprinkled over them. Although not as precious as jazz fans are about anyone tackling the classics, blues fans can get a bit defensive when they hear the words “blues covers album”. You can hardly blame them though with the amount of blues covers albums out there. But purists need not be concerned as Black Stone Cherry treat the genre with the respect it deserves, and the end result is a riotous good time.

Available now on Mascot Label Group.

Review – Dave

Image on header – Rob Wilkins


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