The vehicle that is intended to start this new phase of his career is BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION, the brainchild of producer Kevin Shirley (AEROSMITH, LED ZEPPELIN, BLACK CROWES).
Shirley had seen Hughes guesting at a Joe Bonamassa show in LA and thought there could be a band in the making.
Rounding up the line-up with Jason Bonham (LED ZEPPELIN) on drums and Derek Sherinian (DREAM THEATER) on keyboards, they set out making their debut record in Malibu in January of 2010.
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION is a band that has several things going for them.
Very tasteful guitar playing, energetic drumming that never gets in the way of the songs and a strong live feel that is very refreshing to hear these days.
Bonamassa’s playing comes from a time when the vibe was key, and this album is all the richer for it. There are melodic guitar solos a plenty and most of them feature his signature ”cascade of notes”.
Overall, his playing does have the feel of being very much first take, which lends a nerve to the solos.
This leaves us with the second mainman of BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION: Glenn Hughes.
Arguably one of the finest and most versatile singers out there, his work on this album is excellent for the most part.
As if to prove he’s really back in rock mode, there’s quite a lot of screaming from Glenn on here to please your rock hungry.
The album kicks off with a strong trio of songs, part of the appeal being the way they flow into each other. They pack a good punch and things are not dragged out for too long.
"Black Country" first, with its persistent guitar rhythm, edgy bass work and busy drumming. Glenn sounds forceful in a good way here.
"One Last Soul", the natural choice for a single, has Glenn taking the front seat again. The catchy chorus, with its pumping bass line, would not sound out of place on American classic rock radio if given the chance. Nice guitar parts too.
"The Great Divide" is really strong too. The somber feel of the verses is appealing, a laid back bass line driving them forward. Great phrasing and feel in the vocals. The guitar solo at the end is a superb and tasteful choice of notes with a warm tone.
"Down Again" has the foundation of a pretty standard blues rock riff, but Glenn’s vocals manage to elevate the song into something a bit more special.
"Beggarman" is faster in tempo, that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Hughes’ 'Songs in the Key of Rock' (2003).
"No Time follows" find Bonamassa and Hughes (great bass sound here) simultaneously playing a riff that has traces of Zeppelin’s 'Misty Mountain Hop' in it.
"Medusa" is a remake of the Hughes penned Trapeze song from 1970. Glenn sings it beautifully with lots of feel.
"Stand (at the Burning Tree)", a song that offers a little bit of everything: a lingering Bonamassa riff, Glenn sounding funky and a cool Hammond / guitar solo.
"Too Late for the Sun" is the long and mostly slow paced jam that closes the album. Richly layered vocal harmonies in the chorus, with lots of mildly spaced out improvisational sections in between.
This is a great ROCK album.
The band’s rich and warm organic sound has a distinct appeal and it will be interesting to see where they go from here, with a tour planned to start in 2011 and Hughes already talking about making a second album.
01 - Black Country
02 - One Last Soul
03 - The Great Divide
04 - Down Again
05 - Beggarman
06 - Song Of Yesterday
07 - No Time
08 - Medusa
09 - The Revolution In Me
10 - Stand (At The Burning Tree)
11 - Sista Jane
12 - Too Late For The Sun
* Glenn Hughes - lead vocals, bass
* Jason Bonham - drums, percussion
* Derek Sherinian - keyboards
* Joe Bonamassa - guitars, backing vocals,
lead vocals on "Song of Yesterday" and "The Revolution in Me"
co-lead vocals on "Sista Jane" and "Too Late for the Sun"
IF YOU LIKE IT, BUY IT!