This is a treat. Back in 2017 Black Stone Cherry released a brilliant EP of classic blues covers (read our review here)and now they’re back with Volume 2. It’s exactly what you’d hope for and expect – another clutch of rocking tunes from a handful of blues legends.
Nothing much has been changed, the production is a powerful as ever and the performances are as muscular and dynamic as they were on volume one. Blues tunes are fairly easy to cover…but much harder to cover well. You have to have the attitude, the vibe and the feel. In short, you’ve gotta have the blues. And make no mistake, BSC have the blues.
So, who gets rocked up this time? We start with Freddie King and ‘Big Legged Woman’ – it kicks in…hard. It’s rough, lascivious (as King always should be), defiant and soulful. If possible, they’re getting even better at this. They know they can do it now and this time around they sound more relaxed, more natural.
They even have the chutzpah to tackle the guv’nor – Robert Johnson. Their take on ‘Me and the Devil Blues’ is a funky thang, full of clavinet and a roaring finish. ‘Down In The Bottom’ is raw and dirty, you get the feeling that Howlin Wolf would have loved to have sounded like this. The bands decision to add Yates McKendree on keys is a masterstroke, giving the whole EP and added character. His Hammond on this track (joined by a distorted harmonica) raises proceedings to another level.
Next up is Elmore James. Ok, all EJ songs pretty much sound the same, but when your trademark riff is that iconic, well, who really cares? BSC funkify this, adding scorching solos, wah wah, and a nasty little final riff. Yes, it’s Elmore, but it sounds freshly minted. We round things off with what, in recent years, has become a live staple, ‘Death Letter Blues’. The fearsome, laser-sharp intensity of Son House is never an easy thing to pull off but Black Stone Cherry nail it. It drops out to a bare bones jam the Stones would be proud of before a tantalising moment of piano and a guitar firestorm.
If you have Volume 1, this is a no-brainer. The same applies if you’re a blues rock fan…or a rock fan…or, oh, what the hell, just give this a listen, it’s sheer class from a band on world beating form. Roll on Volume 3, or a blues tour of smaller venues?
Review by Gary Cordwell
Released by Mascot Records on 1 November 2019
- Big Legged Woman
- Me and the Devil Blues
- All Your Love (I Miss Loving)
- Down In The Bottom
- Early One Morning
- Death Letter Blues