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4.2 out of 5 stars69
4.2 out of 5 stars
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 12 April 2010
Joe pushes his boundaries ever further with this release. While it will not be to everyone's tastes, I believe it to be some of his finest work to date. It's completely different to any other Joe album, and the way Joe continues to mature and grow with each release is a testament to the man's talent. As ever, this album is a mix of cover versions and original material. For me, the original material is amazing, especially Blue & Evil which definitely has a Led Zepp sound not unlike Kashmir, and the hauntingly melodic Quarryman's Lament which is simply beautiful, and Wandering Earth is a real down and dirty blues song. Covers include Jeff Beck's Spanish Boots, and Leonard Cohen's Bird On A Wire, both of which are simply stunning. Then of course there's Night Life on which Joe shares guitar and vocal duties with none other than BB King, and the chemistry between them comes across brilliantly on the track. All in all, this is a brilliant piece of work, and a new direction for Joe, so give it a chance, you may be pleasantly surprised.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 31 March 2010
This is probably the most eagerly awaited JB cd in his recording history, mainly due to the enormous success of recent times with Sloe Gin, Ballad Of John Henry and the RAH concert and dvd release. Questions being thrown around about 'How the hell can he get near these musical highs?' Well people ...Joe & co have produced a musical masterpiece. I can confirm , in my humble opinion, that Joe has given us his best work since the 'You And Me' cd.
Very Led Zep in feel , and the added bonus of the Greek influence which enhances the songs in the most positive way.
Black Rock is a very complete statement , unlike its 2 predecessors that were very good but had the odd track you wanted to skip past, not here , every track is a killer in its own way.
Excellantly produced by Kevin Shirley, he and Joe have a very good understanding now and it shows . Only 5 originals here , but its quality not quantity here, following on from the superb 'Happier Times' and 'The Great Flood' from TBOJH, the writing is getting more confident.
The cd kicks off with 2 covers that set the rock groove in nicely, 'Steal Your Heart Away' and 'I Know A Place', before the first of Joe's own compositions 'When The Fire Hits The Sea' which I believe was written about the sunsets in Greece.
The first taste of Greece in the music comes on 'Quarrymans Lament' which has a wonderful laid back rhythm courtesy of the local musicians Joe playing along over the top of them, culminating with a beautiful guitar solo. This will I presume take a few people by surprise, but I like it.
Back to the rock on 'Spanish Boots' an old Beck/Stewart/Wood composition, that will sound great live. The bass , drums and keys are excellant on this track.
Back to Greece on the Cohen cover of 'Bird On A Wire', very beautifully done by all concerned, it could have gone totally over the top here, but thankfully it was kept within boundaries to make a cover version to be immensly proud of.
Back to more familiar Joe ground next on the great Otis Rush's 'Three Times A Fool' rolling blues/rock guitar riff with unlucky in love lyrics .
Nightlife comes next , the duet with Joe's hero BB King. Both guys taking turns on vocals and guitar, great to hear 2 different styles of blues here.
Joe hits us next with his own 'Wandering Earth' the song could have come from any of Led Zeps first 2 albums, I think even Robert Plant would enjoy singing along to this one . Another track that will sound awesome live.
'Look Over Yonders Wall' is another familiar blues/rock groove that we all love to sing and dance along to. A great bassline laid down here by Carmine, with a great Joe solo.
The last 3 tracks on the cd are 'Athens To Athens', 'Blue And Evil' and 'Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind', these 3 are probably my favourite tracks on this cd.
The first 'Athens To Athens' is the cd's standout track , a brilliant old style acoustic blues playing/singing style that I love, with the Greek musicians playing around it. Very close to being the best song Joe has ever written in my very humble opinion.
'Blue And Evil' just rocks and will be a live fave with an acoustic guitar/greek opening and ending, it quickly opens into a total rock riffing track again very Led Zep in structure, great singalong live song.
'The final song 'Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind' is a song I really truely hope Joe plays live in the UK in May. One of the best cover choices he has ever made for his cd's. Written by Blind Boy Fuller , it captures the old mono style recordings style.
This cd I believe will in years to come be regarded as the best cd Joe has released up to this point. Great production from Kevin Shirley, the musicians are quite excellant on here, the songs choices are impeccable, and finally the use of Greek musicians on some tracks is inspiring.
Black Rock is a cd that any of the tracks here could be performed live, I hope he does them all. All concerned can hold their heads up and be proud of what has been produced here.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Thought the track Listing would be of use.
Track listing
1. Steal Your Heart Away
2. Know a Place
3. When the Fire Hits the Sea
4. Quarryman's Lament
5. Spanish Boots
6. Bird on a Wire
7. Three Times a Fool
8. Night Life - King, B.B.
9. Wandering Earth
10. Look Over Yonder Wall
11. Athens to Athens
12. Blue and Evil
13. Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2010
Having been impressed with Joe's previous 2 studio albums (Sloe Gin and The Ballad of John Henry) I was looking forward to this one. Certainly you can't accuse Joe of standing still. Although a blues player each of these last 3 albums are very different. In this one he mixes (with variable results) Greek instruments into his sound. Also the sound at times seems a trifle 'strange' (must be the studio electronics in this Greek studio) and curiously 'cold' - my advice to Joe would be find a studio with a good sound! There's a mixture of acoustic blues and heavy/rock blues plus a great duet with BB King but overall I can't help feeling this isn't his best effort.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 26 March 2010
Is this a case of Greeks influencing Joe or vice versa? Either way, a very clever variation on a blues theme. That said, this is far more blues oriented than rock - indeed, it failed my standard "rock" test (play the start of each track one after the other to find the big hitters!) and, for once, on a Bonamassa album, there isn't an out and out stonker - well actually there is, but it's a builder in the form of BLUE AND EVIL.
Overall Joe's material remains at the highest of levels and his choice of covers and their presentation still stand him head and shoulders over his contemporaries with his guitar playing becoming ever more fluid. This is indeed an album of great balance and counterpoint with the Greek support just adding the right amount of additional influence without being too intrusive to the blues message.
Personal favourites here are When The Fire Hits The Sea, Spanish Boots and of course, Blue And Evil but whether you prefer your blues hard or soft, there is something for everybody within this excellent album.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 16 April 2010
Got the albums from Sloe Gin onwards and seen JB twice in concert. This guy can play and then some, no doubt about that. Pre-ordered the album on Amazon but can't say it blew me away. Personally, I prefer JB's own compositions but there are only one or two stand out tracks with the type of long fluid guitar solos we have come to expect. I agree with another reviewer on the BB King duet - I think it's the worst track on the CD and appears totally disjointed. In summary, OK effort but not his best to date. Maybe he needs to take longer between recordings?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2010
Firstly don't overlook the fact that Mr B has now turned out three albums in under 3 years, which in modern music sets him out from others due to output alone. However with that output, one must marry it to quality so how does it fair in that respect?

I overall give this a five star and that is based on the average mark itunes returns on rating all the songs. The main standout is blue and evil, a pounding blues track which as has already been mentioned contains kashmir-esque flourishes. Bird on a wire and athens to athens dovetail in some nice greek instumentation. The rest is all either covers or generic 12 bar stuff, however it mainly acts as the vehicle to showcase Joe B's quite stunning guitar playing. The tone is nice, stripped back and reminiscent I think of the Clapton "woman" or brown sound. I think the album cements his reputation as the foremost gutiar hero in the world today, plus its probably the best album for vocals too. Would just like to see an album full of originals, and if it takes a few years for him to collect that material, I would gladly wait if he turns out more beauties like Blue and Evil. Seriously, would but this album on the strength of that song alone!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 30 April 2010
This album is very very very good - Bonamassa has set himself and other guitarists a new benchmark, one that will be very hard to beat.

He sounds like a man inspired, like a man on top form and in the process has produced a fabulous rock record more I think than a blues record covering songs by Jeff Beck, John Hiatt, Otis Rush, Willie Nelson and Leonard Cohen. He's also joined by B.B. King on the Willie Nelson, tune "Night Life".

The album was produced in Santorini, Greece and named after Black Rock Studios where it was recorded with Bonamassa once again working with producer Kevin Shirley. (Black Crowes, Aerosmith) - this may explain the rockier sound. With each new album, music lovers are beginning to sit up and take notice. Bonamassa's voice also continues to impress and with his undoubted mastery of the guitar he must surely be acquiring a name as the new king of blues rock guitar.

Highly recommended with the highlights being Blue and Evil, I Know a Place, Spanish Boots and Night Life

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Laughing Dog - musicforthemonth
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 19 October 2010
After my two best friends who in my opinion know a good singer/songwriter when they hear one. Told me to listen to Joe (who dont know each other & live 200 miles apart). It was like a giant kick in the head. Rock/blues has a new king. That was a few months ago. Black rock is my 3rd buy & so far the best. I was lucky enough to see JO BO live on his latest tour. What joe can do with his A truly magnificent showman who can only get better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 30 March 2010
After the success & all round greatness of his previous album The Ballad of John Henry Joe Bonamassa returns with a inspiring world sounding record. The production & sound from a recording studio in Santorini (in Greece) is awesome - Especially when Joe plays along with Greek musicians in four songs ( the brilliant when the fire hits the sea; the amazing Quarryman's Lament; the soulful & haunting Bird on a wire - trust me Bonamassa soars on this one! & the abtly titled & catchy Athens to Athens).
The album has also other standout moments like steal your heart away, blue & evil (album highlight for me), wandering earth & the fantastic duet with the blues lengend BB King (which is just class on its own).
This album & Bonamassa's hard work & brilliant guitar playing should get loads of recognition & airplay (shame it doesn't in UK as his sound is quite refreshing & authentic) - I can't wait to see Mr Bonamassa in concert here in the UK soon as I will be the first to buy a ticket!
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