Mascot Label Group M75392
6 songs – 21 minutes
Based in Edmondton, Ky., but recording for the Dutch-based Mascot Label Group, Black Stone Cherry are a four-piece unit who’ve been delivering their own brand of music since forming about 17 years ago. Hard rockers who’ve charted multiple times on mainstream charts, they have six previous CDs and three EPs to their credit, but delve deeply into the blues format on this brief, but powerful release.
Led by guitarist/vocalist Chris Robertson and previously on the Roadrunner imprint, the band consists of Ben Wells on second guitar, Jonathan Lawhon on bass, and John Fred Young — son of Kentucky Headhunters percussionist Richard Young — on drums and harmonica. All of the band provide backing vocals, as does Andrea Tanaro in a guest appearance. Black To Blues was produced by David Barrick in Glasgow, Ky.
Local favorites in their own right, they used the Headhunters’ former practice house as their recording studio in their early years, but have also recorded in England, and they’ve supported a who’s who of rock bands on tour, including Def Leppard, White Snake, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Nickelback.
That said, it’s obvious that they’re blues lovers, too. Although delivered in a fiery, balls-to-the-wall manner never envisioned by the authors, they power through six familiar blues classics – three penned by Willie Dixon — as they pay tribute to the foundation of all modern American music.
An intense low-register guitar riff opens Dixon’s “Built For Comfort” before Robertson’s strong, faithful vocals. The rhythm section is forceful and driving. The mid-tune guitar solo begins with a blistering single-note run, but drops to a whisper temporarily before things heat up again. Muddy Waters’ “Champagne And Reefer” is up next, kicking off with a definite Delta feel, which continues. The first half of the tune is relatively faithful to the original before being overtaken by rock overtones and rudimentary harp runs.
Uptempo drum triplets kick off a version of Leon Russell, Don Nix and Duck Dunn’s “Palace Of The King.” Although Robertson’s voice is soulful, it’s overwhelmed by the instrumentation. Dixon’s “Hoochie Coochie Man” remains faithful while sonically different because of the way the guitars are layered harmonically. A version of Booker T. Jones and William Bell’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” retains its original feel throughout before a smoking version of Dixon’s “I Want To Be Loved” brings the disc to a close.
Available through Amazon and other major retailers, Black To Blues definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. But if you like metal in addition to the blues, it will definitely be pleasing to your ears. These guys smoke.