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  • Black Country Communion 2

    Black Country Communion 2
    By: Black Country Communion
    Label: J&R Adventures
    Reviewed: January, 2012

    Black Country Communion 2 is the second cannon ball to come out of the powerful artillery known as Black Country Communion – and what a powerful blast of an album it is.  One never knows exactly what stereophonic delights will come out this band but you do know that it’s going to be incredibly good.  BCC2 solidifies that repution.

    The songwriting is as crisp and tight as the musicianship of each and every member of this band.  Produced by Kevin Shirley (as was the first BCC album as well as other Bonamassa projects and other great artists), BCC2 showcases a super band that shows that it’s comfortable in its own skin. 

    Glenn Hughes’ voice and bass work is as good as, if not better than, ever.  Why this guy isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I don’t know but he should be.  Joe Bonamassa’s axe work is par excellence.  The always intricate and intriguing keyboard wizardry of Derek Sherinian is at a whole knew level.  Jason Bonham once again demonstrates that his drumming is worthy of its own accolades instead of relying on DNA-based praise.  He’s definitely his own talented musician.

    Comments on a few cuts of the album:

    The Outsider: This first tune will wrap you up tightly in a musical cocoon that keeps the listener in place for the rest of the album.  Fast, tight and intricate, the song leaves you exhausted at the end but there are ten more songs to go.

    Man In The Middle melodically brings to mind Alice Cooper’s Lost In America with Hughes’ signature funk mixed in for good measure while Faithless has a funky Kasmir-esque vibe to it.

    As always, if a favorite had to be picked from this album, the Boomerocity favorite would have to be the incredibly bluesy Little Secret.  This tasty little tune resulted in me flogging the repeat button countless times.

    One may be tempted to say that BCC2 is an album that Led Zeppelin would’ve made if they were still together.  Perhaps.  However, I prefer to think of it as another landmark album by an incredible band that I hope is around for a very long time while leaving plenty of room for Zeppelin to come back on the scene.

  • Derek Sherinian

    Posted September, 2011

    As a teenager growing up in Phoenix in the seventies, it seemed that music was alive everywhere and boundaries were being both explored and exploited.  Rock and roll was no longer relegated to three or four piece bands that were made up of a drummer, bass player and one or two guitar players and/or a vocalist.

    Keyboards – and by that I mean the new fangled synthesizers that were sweeping the entertainment industry – were beginning to make their presence known in the music business and on our stereos.  Keyboard-heavy bands like Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Yes, and Deep Purple commanded our attention and filled our ears with incredible, intricate sounds that seemed to permeate every cell of our mushy brains.  The keyboard wizardry of Keith Emerson, Rick Wakeman, and Jon Lord, respectively, took the tickling of the ivories to a whole new, mind blowing level.

    In the new millennia, an artist who has the same kind of keyboard genius pulsing through his veins and is of the same superior level of talent and creativity is one Derek Sherinian.  Beginning his affair with the piano at the age of five and, after three semesters of attending the Berklee School of Music on a scholarship, Derek found himself playing the keys with the legendary Buddy Miles, learning the ways of the road and sharpening his performance skills.

    Sherinian then went on to work with the likes of Alice Cooper (who called him “the Caligula of the Keyboards”), KISS, Yngwie Malmsteen and Dream Theater.  He’s currently the keyboard maestro for the super group, Black Country Communion (with guitar great, Joe Bonamassa, bassist, Glenn Hughes, and Jason Bonham on drums) as well as for Billy Idol.

    When he wasn’t working with these rock power houses, he produced an incredible body of solo work over the years with albums such as his first release in 1999, Planet X, which was followed by Inertia two years later.  In 2003, he released Black Utopia and Mythology the following year.  Between then and now, he produced Blood of the Snake  and Molecular Heinosity.  These albums still stand very well on their own and are a definite must for the discriminating listener who loves exceptional music.

    On the 27th of this month, Derek releases Oceana and it is his best work yet.  Co-written with his good friend and drummer, Simon Phillips, the project also enjoys some great musical muscle from friends like Joe Bonamassa, Steve Lukather, Tony MacAlpine, Tony Franklin, Steve Stevens, Doug Aldrich and Jimmy Johnson.

    I got to chat about Oceana with Sherinian recently.  Despite the fact that he was enduring a gauntlet of interviews, Derek didn’t act at all tired from the grueling chat-fest schedule. In fact, he sounded enthusiastic to be talking about his new album.

    I started off the interview by asking Derek how he would describe Oceana to any of his fans or fans of the various bands and artists he has worked with, or are currently working with.

    “I think Oceana is the most melodic and the most grooving of my solo records – and the most focused. I’ve always been very adventurous with the genres and styles of my past records. I’d say that Oceana has the most emphasis on the strong melodies. It’s less heavy metal and less progressive than its predecessors. I really think it’s my best work to date. I know that’s a cliché that artists will say but Simon Phillips and I really but a lot of time and care into the composition, the playing, the production and the choice of players.  We’re very happy with the outcome. The record’s getting rave reviews all around the world so we’re very excited about it.”

    I asked Sherinian if he and Simon wrote all the parts for the various artists to play who appeared on Oceana or did they listen to the song and come up with their own magic, he said, “Well, all the songs that I wrote with Simon where it was just the two of us, we brought Steve Lukather in to play guitar because we always hear his guitar – it’s just always there in our minds. He always comes in and exceeds our expectations.

    “Then, the other songs where I co-wrote – I did two songs with Steve Stevens  where we came up with the stuff and then put everyone else behind what we wrote.  One song I wrote with Joe Bonamassa and the other with Doug Aldrich – it basically works out that, if I write with a guitar player, that’s who winds up playing on the record.

    In this day and age where albums are often made by way of e-mailing tracks back and forth between artists who then add their track in at a studio more convenient to them, I asked Derek if there was much in the way of face time in the studio with the other artists or were they e-mailing tracks back and forth?

    “Oh, no, there was no e-mailing.  Everyone came into Simon’s studio – all the guitar players and we tracked everyone. It was great! The cool thing about living in Los Angeles is that you have the best musicians in the world within a five mile radius from my house. They’re all here.

     “The album took four and half months from the first day of writing to the mastering. It usually takes three to six months depending on everyone’s schedule because everyone’s busy in their own band or making their own records. It’s a challenge to coordinate and schedule everyone to come in.”

    I figured the toughest part of making an album would be sweating over the finer points of engineering the album, finding a producer one could trust or work well with, or trying to nail down the precise sound one was looking for.  When I asked Sherinian what he thought the toughest part of producing an album was, his answer surprised me.

    “The toughest part is coming up with names for these instrumental songs with no lyrics and then naming the album. That really is the toughest part. That really is the hardest part and the biggest struggle.”

    Musical geniuses all derive inspiration for their music in endless ways.  Derek said that, “I get inspired by whoever I’m collaborating with. I do write some songs by myself but I get much more enjoyment by going into a room with nothing with someone else and then yanking something from nothing and watching it evolve – the feedback, the back and forth. That, to me, is exciting and I get inspired by working with people that I really respect.”

    I followed up that question by asking if he has a particular person or audience in mind as he crafts his music.

    “I don’t know. I all just comes down to just closing your mind off and letting your hands move and let your ears rule what’s going on. It all just works out how it’s supposed to.”

    I found it interesting that Sherinian co-wrote Oceana with a drummer (Simon Phillips) instead of, say, a guitar player.  I asked him why that was.

    “Well, Simon and I first started working together on my Inertia record in 2001. For one thing, Simon is my favorite drummer. I love his choice of beats and groove.  But he’s also very melodic. He’s very capable of going on a keyboard and writing and comes up with great ideas. We just have a connection when we write – a chemistry and it always flows very nicely and we always come up with great stuff together.”

    As mentioned earlier, the “Caligula of the keyboards” has worked with some great people throughout your career.  When I asked Sherinian who he hasn’t worked with but hasn’t yet, his answer appeared to be very much at the forefront of his mind.

    “I haven’t worked with Jeff Beck yet. He’s on my list and it’s going to happen at some time. I don’t know when but it’s destined to happen. That’s on my bucket list. I’d like to play on his record or, more, I’d him playing on my record with me and Simon writing and playing – or tour with him – in any capacity would be great. But I think that would be the best if he agreed to play on one of my records and have Simon co-write and produce.

    “It would also be great to get Edward Van Halen to come in play on one of my solo records. I got a chance to play with him live in 2006 at a private party. That was very cool but it would be nice to write a killer instrumental with him and have him come in and track it.”

    With someone who is as intricate in their playing guitar as he is on keyboard, I asked if creating music with a Lukather, Stevens or Bonamassa proved to be more challenging or more synergistic.

    “It doesn’t matter. I’ll go in and do something with someone like Tony MacAlpine, who has amazing chops. I just blend. I’m very chameleonic but at the same time I keep my signature sound with whoever I’m playing with. So, it doesn’t matter.”

    As for tour plans in support of Oceana, Derek shared that, “there’s talk of us doing some stuff in Europe next year. We’re trying to put that all together. Just stay tuned to my website, DerekSherinian.com for updates on that.”

    Sherinians said that, as for plans for the next year, five years, beyond, “I know that next year I’m going to do some more stuff with Black Country Communion – another record.  At the end of this month I start rehearsing with Billy Idol. We’re going to do a short run.  Beyond that, it’s just broad strokes. I just try to stay musical and creative and surround myself with the best players in the world and keep moving forward.

    “I would love to get to a place where I sell enough records that I can go tour my solo stuff around the world so that I don’t have to do anything else. That would be an awesome place to be, career-wise, and I’m not there yet.  That’s what I’m working on.”

    As our call was wrapping up, my final question to the keyboard genius was the one I often ask at the close of an interview these days: How do you want to be remembered and what would you like to have accomplished when you’ve gone to the great keyboard in the sky?

    “I want to be remembered as one of the greats and I want to be known that influenced a whole legion of young – not just keyboard players but musicians. I want to be known as someone that was the architect of metal fusion through my albums, my legacy of who I’ve played with. I just want to leave a mark.”

    No doubt, Derek Sherinian will be around for a very long time and will build just such a legacy.  You can pre-order/order Oceana or Derek’s other great solo work by clicking on the icons on the right side of this page.  Every serious rock music library should have these albums.
    Also, as he mentioned, you can keep up with his solo tour schedule as well as with Black Country Communion, Billy Idol and others buy visiting www.dereksherinian.com.

  • Inertia, Black Utopia, Mythology, Blood Of The Snake, Molecular Heinosity (Re-Issues)

     

    Inertia, Black Utopia, Mythology, Blood Of The Snake, Molecular Heinosity (Re-Issues)

    Derek Sherinian

    Label: Armoury Records

    Release Date: February 11, 2014

    Review Date: February 09, 2014

    In September, 2011, when I reviewed Derek Sherinian’s then-new release,Oceana, I quoted Alice Cooper who called Sherinian “the Caligula of the Keyboards”. Well, the good guys over at Eagle Rock Entertainment (through their rock label, Armoury Records) is reissuing five of Derek Sherinian’s solo albums that will show full well why Alice said what he did. 

    As one of the most talented, respected and in-demand keyboard players in rock, he is known for attacking, confident and instantly recognizable style. A former member of Dream Theater and Black Country Communion, he has also played with Alice Cooper, Kiss, Billy Idol, Yngwie Malmsteen and Black Label Society. He is also a member of the supergroup Portnoy, Sheehan, MacAlpine, Sherinian, (PSMS).

     

    The first of Armoury’s reissue series is Inertia, which was Derek Sherinian’s second solo album, originally released in 2001. It marks the start of his long-term collaboration with Toto drummer Simon Phillips and includes contributions from Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather and Tony Franklin.  Black Utopia was the third solo album, originally released in 2003. It features contributions from Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Billy Sheehan, Yngwie Malmsteen and Al Di Meola. The track Axis Of Evil features a stunning guitar duel between metal icons Zakk Wylde and Yngwie Malmsteen. 

    Fourth came Mythology, originally released in 2004. It features contributions from Zakk Wylde, Steve Lukather, Simon Phillips, Allan Holdsworth, Steve Stevens and a rare guest appearance by John Sykes.  Blood Of The Snake was Derek Sherinian’s fifth solo album, originally released in 2006. It features contributions from Billy Idol, Slash, Zakk Wylde, John Petrucci, Simon Phillips, Yngwie Malmsteen and Steve Lukather among others. Molecular Heinosity was Derek Sherinian’s sixth solo album, originally released in 2009. This album features contributions from Zakk Wylde, Virgil Donati, Brian Tichy and Tony Franklin.

    Armoury’s reissue of these five Derek Sherinian solo albums represents their release at mid-price for the first time and is the perfect way to enjoy this incredible talent, described by Guitar World as the “King Of Keys”.

    Additionally, a direct-to-consumer store will be available with all 5 CD’s and an exclusive shirt bundle. Order up by visiting this link:

     

    http://www.theomegaorder.com/DerekSherinian

     

     

  • Joe Bonamassa - Chattanooga, TN - 2014

    Joe Bonamassa In Concert
    Show Date: December 9, 2014
    Venue: Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Photo by http://www.jamespattersonsgallery.com

         

    Who says that lightning doesn’t strike twice in the same spot?  For me, the lightning of a Joe Bonamassa concert struck me twice this year. The first time taking place back in April in Lexington, Kentucky, and the second time was the night of December 9th at the Memorial Auditorium in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

    That Bonamassa bolt of musical lightning put on an absolutely amazing show.
    Starting precisely at eight o’clock, Bonamassa and his band delighted the enthusiastic tri-state crowd with an eight song acoustic set. With a stompin’ rendition of “Dust Bowl,” Joe glided into “Jelly Roll,” “Different Shades of Blue” (from his new CD of the same name), “Black Lung Heartache,” “Happier Times,” “Jockey Full of Bourbon,” “Dislocated Boy,” and “Athens to Athens.” 

    Each and every song was brilliantly performed. The band was tight as tight can be. Joe’s riffs were precise and flawless. While I absolutely love Joe’s electric part of his shows, I could’ve also listened to the acoustic version all night long.

    After precisely fifteen minutes of intermission time, Joe and the band hit the stage performing the first to cuts from “Different Shades of Blue,” (“Hey Baby” and “Oh Beautiful”) before seguing into “Hidden Charms.”

    Joe then invited fellow blues man, J. D. Simo to the stage to play along on “Double Trouble” and “Gave Up Everything For You.”  All I can say is, “Wow! Wow! Wow!”  These guys tore it up!  Thank you, Joe, for turning me on to Simo!

    Bonamassa closed the show out with “Love Ain’t A Love Song,” “Sloe Gin,” and “Ballad of John Henry” with the encore being, “Django” and “Mountain Time” (a personal favorite of mine).

    If you haven’t ever seen Joe Bonamassa live in concert, you’re really missing out on an incredible treat. Check out his DVD’s or look him up on YouTube. He’s definitely on my short list of all time favorites.

  • Oceana

    oceanacoverOceana
    Derek Sherinian
    Label: Mascot Records
    Reviewed: September, 2011

    LISTENER BEWARE! Upon commencement of playing Derek Sherinian’s Oceana, one will be diluged with a symphony of progressive metal fusion the likes of which haven’t been heard in quite a long time.

    Oceana is the seventh solo effort by keyboard genius, Derek Sherinian and, honestly, it is his best album yet – and I didn’t think that it would ever be possible. “The Caligula of the Keyboards” (as labeled by Alice Cooper) brought in some of the best and brightest of his vast musical circle of friends to put together this incredible collection of music. Friends like Simon Phillips, Joe Bonamass, Steve Stevens, Steve Lukather, Tony MacAlpine, Doug Aldrich, Tony Franklin (Roy Harper, The Firm, Jimmy Page, among others) and Jimmy Johnson (James Taylor, Allan Holdsworth, Lee Ritenour) bring their remarkable talents to the project to come up with a sound that is like no other.

    The album bombards the listeners eardrums with the intricately tight Five Elements and drags you along for a fun-filled musical journey that guarantees that you’ll have this disc on “repeat” for days to come. I’m hard-pressed to identify a favorite because I love all the tunes on this disc so I’ll narrow it down to three . . . for now.

    El Camino Diablo is a struttin’ tune that Sherinian and Phillips co-wrote with Doug Aldrich. The guitar work is phenomenal and tight. Put this tune on while you’re driving and I dare you to stay within the speed limit.

    I Heard That was co-written with Derek’s Black Country Communion band mate (and another Boomerocity favorite), Joe Bonamassa. JB’s fingerprints are all over this tune is sure to be a crowd favorite. Beautifully written and produced, I found myself hitting “repeat” . . . often.

    The last in my trifecta of favorites is one of Sherinian/Phillip’s three collaborations with another guitar great, Steve Lukather. The tune is Seven Sins and is indescribably smooth – especially the great bass work provided by Jimmy Johnson.

    Oceana. You’ll definitely want this one.

Featured Photo

 

 

george lynch

Our Featured Photo by Boomerocity friend and famed rock photographer, Rob Shanahan (robshanahan.com), is of Dokken's George Lynch! Check out more of Rob's work at RobShanahan.com!

 

 

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