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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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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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on 26 March 2010
I can't remember when I was last excited waiting for an album to arrive - probably in the 1970s. It came Friday 26th March and I put it straight into the CD player. This album is fantastic and worth the wait. As ever Joe's playing is exceptional. His singing, never a strong point in the past, has improved 100 fold. The use of Greek instruments on the album enhances certain tracks.
Joes sound is big and full now he tends to lean towards the use of humbucking pickups and mahogany. Caveman Kevin's production brings out the sound.

The band are very strong and the use of horns on Night Live, along with BB's soloing and vocals are fabulous. The track could become a classic if it wasn't a classic already!

On Wandering Earth the amplifier hum is evident in the silent bit at the start - was that intentional?

Nice to see that Joe explains how to pronounce his name on the sleeve notes. I've never been able to get my mouth around it but it is BOHN-NAH-MAH-SAH.
For the geeks there is a list of equipment he used on the album.

We truly are witnessing the blooming of one of the worlds finest guitarists and I hope he comes to Manchester UK soon.
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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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on 26 September 2010
Joe is a great musician and I own most of his CD`s.
With a promissing title like Black Rock, I could hardly wait to get my hands on this one.
I played it 3 times before putting it back in it`s box where it will probably stay for a very long time.
Too experimental for my taste.
If you like his work on "Sloe Gin" and "So it`s like that", you`ll probably better off to let this one pass.
I didn`t and I wasted my money.
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on 27 March 2010
I am a certified blues fan, thousands of cds and concerts, and also a great Joe admirer. Seeing him live is an experience, but this is the second studio album in a row I am finding sub-par. This one is better than John Henry (not difficult, I think the JH cd was terrible). Here we have more of the stuff that made Joe noticed, but my favourite tracks are covers, his own songs are not that good. I personally do not dig this attempt at diversity with the inclusion of Greek instruments, but that's only my opinion. So, I am a fan, I love Joe, I love his early CDs, but I am getting worried after a second "not too good" CD. Can't say I am much motivated to put this in a loop in the car, I still prefer Buddy Whittington's CD for instance.
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on 22 March 2010
Album arrived on Saturday and couldn't wait to play it, as I am a MASSIVE fan of Joe and his music. Yet again he has taken his music to another level, and while 'covers' take up 7 of the 13 tracks, he has always had the knack of treating the cover versions with respect and yet adding his own unique style to them. Can't think of a standout track at the moment because every one is a Gem as far as I am concerned. I have everything he has released and I firmly believe he is the best Guitar player in the world today. Cannot wait to see him LIVE in May.
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on 4 April 2010
I have bought all of Joe Bonamassas albums and have been blown away by all of them except this one (Black Rock). I was quite dissapointed with this one actually. In Black Rock he is trying to hard to be original and ends up being bland and a bit pretentious in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I'm still a huge Joe Bonamassa fan and would recommend any of his previous albums in a heartbeat and I hope his next album will be better.
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