Black Stone Cherry
Black To Blues EP
(Mascot Label Group)
As anyone who has seen Black Stone Cherry perform will know, these Kentucky lads are never far from the Blues. The clues are the way they play off each other, the use of dynamics, the occasional slide guitar but moreover the raspy vocal stylings of Chris Robertson.
Here, the band take some blues songs they like – maybe over-familiar songs to veteran blues listeners? – and make them into BSC numbers. There is no attempt to recreate or imitate the originals at all however you cannot doubt the integrity with which they approach their versions and arrangements. These are youngish blokes, full of fire! They haven’t heard these songs everywhere, all their lives…
Built For Comfort I recall from BSC’s Teenage Cancer Trust at The Borderline, where we all paid up and then bought loads of band-donated merchandise after the show. The Wolf song is a number Chris sings with relish. It’s a real chugger here, heavyweight with ringing piano and grunting clavinet and fleet guitar, bursts of wah and grinding bass. Champagne & Reefer is a Muddy Waters gem given a greasy rocking treatment with trilling harp.
The Freddie King songbook is raided for Palace Of The King, here a driven slab of blues-rock with a touch of Blue Cheer, powerful stuff. Hoochie Coochie Man – every drab blues act’s favourite benefits from some linear horns and is well sung but we have all heard this far too many times. Having said that it is growing on me, it’s the apocalyptic horns! Over to Stax for Albert King and Born Under A Bad Sign, a longtime group favourite. Again the horns add something spicy to the mix.
Excellent drumming and bass here. The guitar bites. I Want To Be Loved is one of Willie Dixon’s best compositions and sounds ripe and energised here, cruising harp under the vocal then from nowhere pure Elmore slide guitar! Purists avoid, others enjoy the energy..