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4.2 out of 5 stars
116
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 17 August 2013
I'm not great at writing reviews on music - so even though I buy lots of cds I rarely review them. I was really impressed with Gary Clark - he plays in a variety of styles from soul, jazz-funk through to some country type stuff. I'm not too keen on country but every track is slick, well produced and played and one feels that the music means something to him. I am in my 50s and a product of the prog and symphonic rock of the early 70's and soul from the same period so what really works for me is music that the writers/performers care about, that it means something to them, that it has soul (even if it is prog-rock) and Gary Clarke's music has soul.
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on 5 November 2013
I first heard of Gary Clark Jr due to very frequent, persistent but never tiring promoting of said artist by Epiphone. Clark uses Epiphone Archtop guitars and due to his sucess Epiphone has plastered him all over their newsletters. I am glad they did. I sampled his work by purchasing the Bright Lights E.P. and liked his sound quite alot. After that, I got my hands on the Gary Clark E.P., which featured some more great songs. Finally I got my hands on Blak And Blu and was very excited by my purchase. However, my initial reaction to the album was not very positive. There were alot of songs that were vastly inferior to what I had heard and expected of this musician. After repeated listenings I realized that there is some really great material recorded here, but that suprisingly are drowwned ou towards the end of the album, while some of the worst songs are placed in front and center. "Blak and Blu", "The Life" and "Travis County" - the worst songs of the album that merited at best to be featured as bonus tracks - are placed in the begginning of the album. So the tracklisting is the first issue I have with this album as it may deter people from buying it if they stick to listening to the first 6 tracks.
My other problem were that the recorded version of the songs "Please Come Home" and "Things Are Changin" on this album are vastly inferior to the ones available on Clark's previous E.P's due to overproduction. Their live and underproduced previously recorded versions are alot better. That's my second issue with this album.
And in comes my third issue. I have bought the deluxe version with two added bonus tracks which are really good songs that merited to be included on the main album and should have replaced "Blak and Blu", "The Life" and "Travis County" which are far inferior. I also do not understand as to why they did not include "I Don't Owe You A Thang". The album has plentuy of recycled tracks from previous releases, what harm could there be in adding another? I can only suppose it aims to pushthe consummer into purchasing the "Bright Lights E.P.".
So essentially it's a very good album, with excellent songs that grow even more on you as you listen to them, but the album is severly marred by it's somewhat inept and detracting tracklisting. Be prepared to hit the skip button on ocasion but even if you don't buy the bonus tracks version (which I would if I were you as it's two bonus tracks are well worth the few extra bucks) there will still be alot of great songs to go through even after skipping a few of them.
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on 13 April 2013
Having seen GCJ live in summer 2012 i couldn't wait for this album to be released. Unfortunately it doesn't live up to what I saw and felt that night I saw his live set. I found the album disjointed and feel he's trying to be too many things to too many people. There's far too many genres crammed into it and in my opinion he needs to stick to what he's amazing at...blues rock. Great live artist but I know he can do better than this! Come on Gary give us what so many of us adore you for.
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The campaign for Gary Clark Jr has received a Presidential endorsement from the White House with Barack Obama describing him as "the future" and Classic Rock endowing "Blak and Blu" with 10 out of 10. The weight of this praise is enormous and separating the reality from the hyperbole is important for while Gary Clark Jr is a great prospect this album as a musical whole does not live up to the fanfare. The problem is Clark Jr's desire not to be pigeon holed as a pure blues guitarist which is to be admired, but as a result this album lacks any sense of coherence with its sheer multiplicity of styles and often weak songs. The boisterous opener "Ain't messin around" is a classic example; yes it contains a blistering solo from Clark Jr but it repeats the chorus ad nauseam and frankly is the sort of song that sounds much better on stage than record. In a completely different league is the Cream influenced "When my train pulls in" a vintage piece of slow thundering blues where all Clark Jr's skills are on full display not least a great vocal style and solos flying off like lighting strikes. He is venturing into an area which is already populated with premier division guitarists like Dan Auerbach and Joe Bonamassa but he holds his own in this company and this seven minutes is possibly the finest on the record, although the later funky blues of "Bright lights" is also very good. Sadly the title track doesn't match this feat. It is essentially throwaway funk and some have already noticed the resemblance to singers like Anthony Hamilton and John Legend. Equally do we really need a rerun of every Chuck Berry cliche in the book on "Travis County" which is at heart the riff from Johnny B Goode including the guitar solo! The barrel is scraped however on "This life" which is essentially sounds like a Usher B side.

The second half of the album takes a heavier turn in most songs (with the exception of the weak doo wop of "Please come home") and is all the better for it not least the hard rock of the pulverising "Numb" where Clark spins a nasty riff over a huge backbeat. Granted Gary Clark is no Jimi Hendrix but his slowed down cover of "Third rock from the sun" combined with Albert Collins standard "You love me like you say" is very nicely cooked and has some excellent guitar shredding over its near 10 minute duration. Thankfully the album does go out with a bang with the power funk of "You saved me" with its razor guitar powering a very strong commercial pop song. And then at last we get some proper Delta ambience with the excellent "Next door neighbour blues" where the ghosts of Big Joe Williams and Son House are invoked and a stool in a Gin joint required to pay full attention.

"Blak and Blu" therefore is an album that cries out for a producer to reign in Clark's tendency to aimlessly genre hop and pin him down to specifics. In doing so you also pray that what comes next will draw more heavily on the fact that Clark Jr is a brilliant acoustic guitarist which is bizarrely almost completely absent on this album. The irritation of the good track/bad track approach that Clark Jr takes to the album's sequencing really does wear patience. Around half the tracks on this album are pure 5 star quality but they are padded with sub standard fare. This is a shame since Clark Jr undoubtedly has a killer album up his sleeve, sadly "Blak and Blu" is not quite it.
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on 10 January 2014
From time to time a fresh breeze makes its announcement within the bluesrock community. Gary Clark jr. is an example.

The record contains a good mix of traditional style blues(rock) music upgraded to the second decade of the 21st Century. The record contains a lot: Catchy classical guitarrifs in albume opener 'Ain't Messin 'Round' keeps Peter Green's "Stop Messing Around' alive but withouth the horns. It's a catchy up-tempo tune. Some traditional rolling-like-a-slow-train guitarrifs in the strong 'When my Train pulls in' and in the faster bluescountryrocker 'Travis county'. But you will also hear some heavy guitarlines in Hendrix-style 'Numb'. The sweet bluessoul songs 'Please come home' and 'Things are a changing' contain soulguitar with for the first one slightly, very nice falsetto-voice. Finally modern bassrhtyhms in the excellent modernblues and personal favorite 'The life'.

Gary Clark jr. shows within one record he's capable playing different styles. For some who prefer a artist to play only one or two styles the record will be a little bit to much differences. For me, it works very well. Having plays the record several times, it still sounds fresh.
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on 11 May 2013
Some searingly good stuff here with great guitar throughout. Just be aware if you're a rock fan that there's a fair bit of crap as well - The Life and Please Come Home are so bad I had to delete them from my MP3 'car' copy. But there's enough great stuff to buy it, and if he steers clear of the soul rubbish he'll be great live.
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on 31 October 2013
- I understand that GCJr appreciates different styles of music so is prepared to mix it up a bit however I think that this album illustrates that he does guitar based blues/rock extremely well yet the more pop side of things is not as good. I do not to pigeon hole music and love artists like Warren Haynes/Gov't Mule who do mix up the genres, but to do that you have to be excellent at those different styles and sad to say GCJr is not quite there yet.
There are some great tracks on this album, and some of Gary's live performances on YouTube stand him out as something special. Really looking forward to seeing him live and was disappointed to see him in the UK for a BBC Jools Holland TV show yet no sign of any live dates to go along with it. It almost looks like his management have these grandiose ideas forgetting about the valuable ground work and getting close to real music fans building things up on a stable foundation the way somebody like Joe Bonamassa did it. I can't help but think that what is missing is good management.
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on 24 August 2013
Blak and Blu.. Terrific Blues Album, RIFFS all the way through. To say he is the next Jimi Hendrix ???? Not sure ?? Though he will an excellent BLUES MAN... If you're a fan of BLUES give this Album a try ....
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VINE VOICEon 17 June 2013
Reading the reviews (both professional and amateur)and hearing "Bright Lights" being played regularly on Planet Rock, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this was, indeed, the Second Coming...and I too was taken in (albeit not paying anything like "full price" for the "priviledge")!
So what is the problem, I hear you say? - well, it's two-fold:
1) The artist's clash of musical styles (blues rock a la Hendrix (but without the
guitar playing credentials) mixed in with 60's style "soul" music...!)
2) The artist's over use of the wah-wah pedal and fuzz box with overtly meandering,
pointless solos!
I like to think myself as being a lover of music in most of it's forms, differentiating only between good and bad, but this mix of musical styles is very difficult to get a handle on, so while I quite like "When My Train Pulls In", "Bright Lights", Glitter Ain't Gold", "Numb", "Third Rock From The Sun" and "Next Door Neighbor Blues" (which are all the blues/rock tracks) - the rest is so diametrically opposed that you just end up skipping through to find the decent material.
Sorry, I might be missing some very obscure point here, but original, this ain't! And he's certainly no guitarist extraordinaire either, just adequate with a rather average vocal to boot. All in all worth around 2.5 stars, so if you too are being sucked in by the hype, dig your heels in and go spend your hard earned on something a little more deserving - try the latest offering from PINNICK, GALES, PRIDGEN where a real Hendrix-esque guitarist sits in the form of Eric Gales and the music, although rooted firmly in the sixties and seventies, is right up there!
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on 19 November 2013
Having heard this artist on Jools Holland I decided to buy his album as soon as I found it on here. Sad thing is, the songs he played on Jools Holland were by far the best two songs on this album. At his best, he is arguably a great new talent, but this album shows an artist who has perhaps been rushed into releasing an album before creating an album's worth of material. Some of the songs just miss the mark of being great, one or two are too poppy and light, almost boybandish in tone. That said, the album is worth buying for Numb alone and trying the other tracks. Personal taste plays a large part in music reviews, and for me the album is disjointed and somewhat disappointing after seeing such a great performance on TV. One for future, but today 3* only
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