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The boys return – but is it a holy communion this time?

There’s a moment, precisely 30 seconds into “Collide”, the opening song on “BCCIV” when Glenn Hughes has roared the opening vocal, and the band – Jason Bonham, Joe Bonamassa and Derek Sherinian – have played the opening groove, when you realise that whatever happened doesn’t matter. It is simply true to say that Black Country Communion are back.

It’s worth revisiting and thinking about the moment that the four got together in the first place. There is always that thing about “supergroups”, can they live up to what the members have done before. It was never an issue for these boys, their debut album was the album of the year with no hesitation, and MV can speak personally given that I was there as a fan for their first ever gig, at Wolverhampton Civic Hall at the end of that year, they were incredible onstage too.

Their reformation last year brought with it a different set of challenges. They were no longer, after all just a supergroup, they were a supergroup with a phenomenal body of work to live up to.

Such challenges are what make the best, well, the best, however, and there is a very real possibility that not only is “BCC IV” their finest record, but it is very probably the hard rock album of the year.

The aforementioned opener sets the tone. “Collide” possesses plenty of light and shade, plenty of skill and everything else you’d expect, but what it’s also got is a cocksure swagger. It knows it’s good and is more than happy to prove it.

A record that has no interest in anything that isn’t bombastic, “Over My Head” is this record’s singalong moment, the hook the stomp, the strut that only the best rock n roll ever has, all wrapped up in four minutes.

At that length, it is one of the album’s shorter moments, the charm in “BCCIV” is not its brevity, it is instead that four immensely talented men are right on top form. “Sway” has hints of Led Zep, and sees Hughes at his very best. It gives way to one of the record’s darker moments and in many ways “The Cove” is the centrepiece of the whole thing. About the killing of Dolphins (a cause close to Hughes’ heart) it is an incredible, evocative song and, frankly, anyone who doubts that Bonamassa is the most versatile player on the planet needs to hear this.

The thing about the record is that each of them gets a run without dazzling you with technical wizardry. It seems as though egos were left at the door, instead of each jostling for prominence. “The Crow” one of the album’s most straight up, flat out rock moments becomes a wonderful vehicle for Sherinian to let his hair down on the organ. Indeed, there is fine keyboard work throughout the whole of this. The piano makes “Wanderlust” almost funky and there is a 60s vibe all over the chorus.

A collection that is unafraid to confront personal issues, “Love Remains” was written by Hughes for his late mother and father, but this is not an album to be morbid. Instead it has a defiant message that love carries on. As such it is an absolutely fitting tribute.

The incredible groove that ushers in “Awake” is an interesting left turn, and one that is matched by a chorus that brings a new meaning to the word soaring. Made all the more stark because for the most part the verses are restrained.

Nine of “…IV”’s tracks are sung by Hughes. The other is a Bonamassa special. “The Last Song For My Resting Place” (about the violinist on The Titanic) manages to be as epic as its title, but is also ample evidence that JB is in a fine place with his songwriting right now – carrying on almost from where “Blues Of Desperation” left off, but still sounding perfectly at home in this setting.

The last one, “When The Morning Comes” has a real Free flavour at the start, and can essentially be seen as the calm after the storm, not just of the album, but perhaps the past as well? Because when all is said and done and the talking stops, only the music is left and these four can create true magic. “BCC IV” is the proof.

Rating 10/10

The post REVIEW: BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION – BCC IV (2017) appeared first on MaximumVolumeMusic.

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About therealsteavis (243367 Articles)
Committed to the Three Rs - Rugby league, Rock & roll and the Road

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