Here is where I show my ignorance. I'm not really a great devotee of Funk, though I've heard some of the classics, but I do love good instrumental music, played with passion, and thats exactly what we get here. Frankly, I like anything Joe Bonamassa is on because he seems to be the sort of old fashioned guitar hero who can turn his hand to any style and make it sound well... really good.
The album contains nine songs and a bonus track, all instrumental, and pulls off the neat trick of feeling relaxed but tight all the way through. It must have been a brave decision, fashion seems to have turned against the instrumental in recent years, as was Joe's decision to play with the band, rather than solo heroically as we have come to expect. Instead, he keeps his playing brisk and focused, leaving space for Tal Bergman, Ron DeJesus, Mike Merritt and Renato Neto to showcase their talents too. And they don't disappoint. A quick a look at their bios shows why. A history of successful bands, production and session work, so really this is a group of professionals making the music they love.
Nowhere is this better showcased for me than on The Best Ten Minutes of Your Life, a relaxed ten minute track that knows it doesn't need to be in a hurry to get anywhere, so it just builds, then ebbs, then builds again, with gentle rhodes piano and funky guitar rhythm. The single Octopus E is also a standout with a driving riff that gets everything off to a fine start. But to be honest this isn't the sort of album that makes you want to skip around, anticipating the thrill of hearing your favourite song. Its the sort of album you listen to in one sitting while it sculpts your mood.
This 180g double LP pressing blessedly free from any crackles and skips (a relief to a member of the digital generation like myself). I don't know whether it was recorded on analog tape or digitally, but the mix sounds clear and tight with a nice stereo field and a good punchy bass. Whatever they did, it works. The artwork is suitably bright with track info and photos of the band on the inside panels. Now for my two complaints. The minor one is that I would have liked to see an voucher code for digital copy of the album in with the LP, as many labels are doing, though at least RCFP are giving away one of the tracks, Octopus E, from the band's website, something Joe does frequently with his other releases as well. Perhaps for the price I shouldn't complain, as for two platters of vinyl it is a bargain. My major complaint is that the running order of the mimics the CD and includes a long a silence between the last song and the bonus track. I guess this is one place vinyl has an advantage, as it's easy to see where you need to skip to!
If you are a fan of Joe or of good instrumental music, this is well worth picking up. Its the sort of music you can either have on in the background or simply lose yourself in depending on your mood. Its great to know people still care enough to release stuff like this. I hope there will be another, and I hope Joe will keep doing these side projects and surprising us.
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