A must have for any blues devotee.
Released by: Snakefarm Records
Release Date: 21st of September
Genre: Blues, Blues Rock
Billy F Gibbons: Guitar, Harp & Vox
James Harman: Additional Harmonica
Joe Hardy: Fender Bass Guitar
Greg Morrow & Matt Sorum: Drums
Mike Flanigin: Keyboards
(all songs by Billy F Gibbons except where noted):
1. Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’ (Gilly Stillwater)
2. My Baby She Rocks
3. Second Line
4. Standing Around Crying (Muddy Waters)
5. Let the Left Hand Know…
6. Bring It to Jerome (Jerome Green)
7. That’s What She Said
8. Mo’ Slower Blues
9. Hollywood 151
10. Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (Muddy Waters)
11. Crackin’ Up (Bo Diddley)
In what can only be described as a love letter to the blues, Billy F Gibbons follows up his successful Cubano flavoured solo album Perfectamundo with The Big Bad Blues, which takes us on a journey to the Mississippi Delta to listen to Billy reinvent his favourite classics as well as add a number of his own to the mix. Having assembled an all-star line-up of musicians to bring his vision to life, Billy describes The Big Bad Blues as, “something which our followers can enjoy with the satisfaction of experiencing the roots and tradition and, at the same time, feeling the richness of stretching the art form.” Expanding on that he added, “There’s something very primordial within the art form, and nobody gets away from the infectious allure of those straight-ahead licks!” There is certainly no denying that. Any lover of the blues is going to be swept up by this album and will find it hard to put down. As Billy says, “The blues is alive!” And this album is certainly proof of that.
Discussing the tone of the album, Billy added, “The dirtier, the grittier, the better. Dirt is its own reward, but you have to go low to get it in.” And this album most certainly goes low. There are some heavy, fat, deep, and slithering riffs dominating every track. Opening with the first single of the album, “Missin’ Yo’ Kissin’”, I can’t help thinking that it sounds more ZZ Top than ZZ Top. It’s a catchy song with an infectious beat that will get you up and moving as you groove along with it. Billy’s vocals are as good as ever, and he doesn’t miss a lick in this energetic track.
Opening with a blast of harmonica, “My Baby She Rocks” is a down and dirty blues bar anthem driven along by a traditional 4/4 blues beat and that sweet harmonica tone howlin’ in the background, riffing along with the band. With “Second Line” Billy lays down a funky blues grove, which segues nicely into “Standing Around Crying” which is the first of four covers on the album. This classic homage to Muddy Waters contrasts well against “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” which is sure to have the ghost of Muddy Waters dancing at the crossroads. The tone produced by Billy’s guitar is just superb. Discussing the tracks, Billy added, “Muddy was the man who changed the world in a very real way. He took the rural blues out of the Delta, went up to Chicago, ‘discovered electricity,’ and the world was forever changed. Muddy’s at the root of just about everything that came after.”
The rest of the album just cracks on with one excellent blues song after another. “Let the Left Hand Know” is a swinging blues track with sweet harmonica riffs, a step-beat shuffle, and harmonised vocals all driven along by Billy’s fat guitar sound. “That’s What She Said” is a tongue in cheek and irreverent blues song featuring outstanding harmonica work. “Mo’ Slower Blues” is pure Delta blues brought into the 21st century. This raucous blues shuffle claws its way through supported by the haunting tack piano in the background, the thrumming basslines, weighty guitar riffs, and Billy’s signature voice. “Hollywood 151” is a modern gritty blues ditty, with an impressive amount of heavy fuzz infused into the track, which is cut through by Billy’s gravelly voice, the pulsing bass and punchy drums. It’s a perfect highway tune. Rounding out the covers are two songs associated with Bo Diddly. First up we have “Bring It To Jerome”, which opens with a raspy harmonica, and breaks into a ballsy blues strut with a chugging guitar a proper old-school stomp beat on the drums. And the song that closes the album, “Crackin’ Up” features a bright guitar riff that echoes Bo’s signature sound, in this feel-good cover of the classic. A terrific ending to an outstanding album.
Recorded at Foam Box Recordings in Houston, and co-produced by Billy and Joe Hardy, The Big Bad Blues represents a carefully crafted and curated collection of songs brought to life by Billy’s undying love for the blues and good ole’ fashioned rock n’ roll. The Big Bad Blues has a distinctive vibe about it, with a larger than life, live sound that feels at times as though the speakers will barely contain it. I can only imagine how impressive it’s going to be performed live. When listening you can’t help but be swept up in the passion Billy clearly has for the blues and these songs in particular. His voice is full of energy and his guitar tone is unmatched on this recording. The chemistry he has with his backing band is absolutely palpable, and you can tell they had as much fun recording this album as Billy did. I am certain this album will stand out as an all-time blues classic and is a must have for any blues devotee.
Written by: Erik De’Viking
My Global Mind – Reviewer / Music Journalist
Erik De’Viking is a freelance music journalist based in the South of England. His musical interests include rock and metal in all its forms, and he is constantly on the lookout for new bands and genres to discover and later preach about to the masses.
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