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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Posted February 2017 

    glennbackcoversingle copyI don’t know what songs kids play air guitar in their rooms these days but “back when I was their age” (did I just say that?!), one of the bands on my air guitar short list was most definitely Deep Purple. Their Made In Japan album was, by far, THE album (if a kid couldn’t play anything else on guitar, they could play the intro to Smoke On The Water) and when their studio album, Burn, came out, Purple fans emptied store shelves of it. 

    The band has had four different line-ups (referred to as Mark I, II, III, or IV) and have reportedly collectively sold over 100 million LPs globally. The bassist in Marks III and IV was Glenn Hughes who, along with other members of Deep Purple, were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year. 

    While on the subject of the RRHOF, I contacted its CEO, Greg Harris, for some comments about the legendary bassist.

    “An overall thought is what an incredible rock and roll life and what an incredibly warm and open person. It says a lot to be such a great stage presence in rock and roll, through and through and having been so well traveled. He relates to people. I’m very impressed with his friendship and generosity to everybody. If you think about his lineage in the bands he was in before Deep Purple itself and then afterwards, it’s just amazing. So, whether or not you knew the name of the guy playing bass in some of these bands – that unmistakable sound is Glenn Hughes.”

    When I asked Greg if Glenn had been involved with the Hall with regards to contributing any memorabilia, he said, “He has. He’s been, first and foremost, involved with the induction. Then, subsequent to that, he’s actually served as our Hall of Fame ambassador at a few events. He’s such a great spokesperson for the museum. He was generous in providing items for the exhibit. With such a long career and so much movement, he doesn’t have a lot of things left from those early days. But he shared with us a real period piece: a pair of platform shoes that he wore during the Deep Purple era.”

    Mr. Harris closed his comments about Glenn by adding, “Not only is Glenn an inductee into the Hall of Fame but he has also become a member of the Hall of Fame family. He truly has been a great ambassador and he and his wife, Gabby, are just terrific individuals.”

    glennbw copyGlenn not only played in the Deep Purple, but he

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  • glennhughescoverGlenn Hughes: the Autobiography: From Deep Purple to Black Country Communion
    By: Joel McIver and Glenn Hughes
    Publisher: Jawbone Press
    Reviewed: January, 2012

    If you mention the band, Deep Purple, to any baby boomer, you will likely hear instant mouth-generated riffs of some of their huge hits like Hush, Smoke On The Water, Space Truckin’, Burn and many, many more.

    One of the most flamboyant and remarkable members of the band was bass player, Glenn Hughes, who joined the band in 1973, making up what is referred to as the “Mark III” and “Mark IV” band line-ups. To be sure, Hughes made his first mark with his band, Trapeze, but his first huge success happened when he joined Deep Purple. Hughes went on to work with many great artists and bands, as well as doing his own solo work, and is currently thumpin’ the bass with the super group, Black Country Communion.

    After over forty years in the music business, it was high time that Hughes came out with a book to tell his story up to this point. He does so (along with the excellent help and guidance of Joel McIver) with Glenn Hughes: the Autobiography: From Deep Purple to Black Country Communion.

    I don’t want to ruin any surprises in the book but I will say that Mr. Hughes is pretty darn lucky to be alive. I wasn’t surprised by the drug use. I was surprised by extent of his addictions and the distance of his fall.

    The book is chock full of entertaining stories from his days in Trapeze and Deep Purple as well as his work (or attempts at work) with greats like Tony Iommi, David Bowie and Gary Moore, to name but a few. Woven within those tales is the story of a severely addicted but incredibly talented artist. I found my stomach turning into knots as I read his many, many accounts of drug-addled living. The vast amounts of money spent and the great opportunities lost can neither be recaptured.

    That all said, Hughes tells his entire story, warts and all, from the vantage point of one who has finally come to grips with his disease and knows his life of sobriety is a rare second chance at life. It’s obvious that he’s now living life to its real fullest, with the love of life, Gabi, and the renewed passion he has for writing and making music. No, he can’t recover what he has lost in the areas of time and money but that only fuels the intensity to make every moment of every new day count. And, while I’m a huge fan of his work and love the stories behind the music, my biggest take-away is the insight Glenn Hughes provides by baring his soul regarding his disease and his sobriety.

    One interesting thing about this book besides the incredible stories: All the photos provided are in the front of the book instead of in the middle or scattered throughout. I’m not saying that it’s better or worse that way – just interesting.
    Glenn Hughes: the Autobiography isn’t just a must-have book for the rock music fan, it’s a must-have book for anyone who wrestles – no, make that “battles” – with addictive demons.

  • Posted May, 2011

    JasonBonhamI remember the first time that I saw the epic Led Zeppelin movie, The Song Remains The Same. It was during the long Thanksgiving weekend of 1976.  I distinctly remember the collage of family footage of the Bonham family that were intertwined within the footage of John “Bonzo” Bonham’s signature drum solo during Moby Dick.

    Among the various scenes of Bonzo with his lovely wife, the lovely Pat Phillips, walking the country side or driving one of his favorite hot rods or chopper.  What I found (and still find) particularly cool, though, is scenes of his young son, Jason, playing on a miniature, clear drum kit with all the coolness, seriousness and confidence in the world.

    Fast forward to 2011.

    Watching footage of a now 45 year old Jason, on a near exact, “grown up” version of that drum set, one still sees the same coolness, seriousness and confidence as he plays for his own band as well as a wide variety of other groups.  The most notorious performance being, of course, the one show reunion of his dad’s Zeppelin band mates for the Ahmet Ertegün Tribute Concert in 2007 in London.  Clearly, his dad would continue to beam with uncontainable pride watching his son pound the skins.

    Bonham Sr., would also be very proud of Jason’s show, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, currently touring the U.S.  One would be sadly mistaken if they thought that this was some lame attempt of a Zeppelin tribute band.  In fact, Jason addressed that question during a recent phone interview.

    “Well, one thing I kind of give it is that I’ve actually played with the band a couple of times and had some moments in authenticity. First and foremost JBLZE is a concert. But I give it a slightly different angle from the story content of the show and I release and show some very tender and pure moments that not many people have seen such as my dad as a child growing up with his father and interacting with his own family and his brother and his children.

    “And, you know, this is a man that would grow up to be the Beast, the guy--Bonzo, the legendary guy that was one of the first to throw a TV set through a window. But realistically he was my dad and just an everyday guy, really. So within the context of the show I talk a little about him as a personal person, you know, as a guy that I knew not so much as the guy that you know as ‘Bonzo’, but as my father. I show some of the moments we shared together which were and are, you know, very cherished now.

    “We didn’t live in the era of everything being recordable on your phone and very easily accessible. So when you see these moments, they’re very few and far between as my Dad could record and capture. And also, I like to touch on the love I

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  • Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience

    Bijou Theater

    Knoxville, Tennessee

    May 5, 2015

     

         

    It’s been over seven years since the remaining members of Led Zeppelin assembled together for their historic performance at London’s O2 arena. At this time, it appears that a tour from the mates isn’t going to happen. 

    However, what we do get to enjoy is Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience which hit Knoxville on May 5th and what an experience it was!

    The band was greeted by a sell out, enthusiastic crowd at Knoxville’s Bijou Theater as they hit the stage playing “We’re Gonna Groove” and went on to blast through Zep favorites such as “Black Dog,” “I Can’t Quit You, Baby,” “Dazed and Confused,” and a bunch of others.

    The band did especially great covers of “Since I Been Loving You,” “Kashmir,” “When The Levee Breaks” and “Stairway To Heaven.” The crowd often sang along and didn’t seem to notice some of the technical difficulties that Bonham would comment about. 

    Guitarist, Tony Catania, was amazing in his treatment of the Zeppelin classics and James Dylan killed it on the vocals.

    A first for Boomerocity: Seeing a drummer actually break a brass cymbal. Yup, Jason did exactly that to which his drum tech quickly replaced while the band left to cheers for an encore. Yes, the band did encore with “Whole Lotta Love” and 

    Jason tours with LZE through the end of May. If you get a chance to get “Experienced,” do. You won’t regret it. 

  • 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.