Spotlight on Joe Bonamassa

J&R Adventures, Joe Bonamassa's own record label, has repressed three of Joe's album releases on limited edition colored 180 gram vinyl. Here's what you can expect from these very desirable collector's items from the most revered blues guitarist on the scene. Get 'em while they're hot!

Joe Bonamassa - So, It's Like That (2-LP in Gatefold Jacket, Transparent Red Vinyl)

This album from 2002 is where Joe's songwriting abilities began to emerge. On his debut album Bonamassa wrote about half the cuts; here on his second solo outing he co-writes all except one. Fans not familiar with his earlier work may be a bit surprised by some of the sounds here; opening cut "My Mistake" is an alt rocker, "No Slack" is funky R&B with pop leanings, and the one cover, "Unbroken," is a radio-ready alt rocker written by Annie Roboff and Holly Lamar that was also recorded by country superstar Tim McGraw. "Lie #1" and title cut "So, It's Like That" are more what Bonamassa fans expect; the former being a classic blues rocker while the latter rocks in a style familiar to fans of Stevie Ray Vaughn. Bonamassa demonstrates his fondness for Jimi Hendrix and Robin Trower on the epic "Pain and Sorrow" with perhaps his most intense guitar work on the album; the awesome jam is long enough for him to really shine, and drummer Kenny Kramme rocks like a madman too. So, It's Like That offers lots of good listening and a chance for fans to track how Bonamassa's sound has progressed since this early release.

Joe Bonamassa - Sloe Gin - (Transparent Blue Vinyl)

For this 2007 release Bonamassa deals out a set that is split just about equally between originals and covers. And the choice of covers is exceptional, with the ominous Chris Whitley tune "Ball Peen Hammer" leading the way. Also included are takes on the haunting "Seagull," a cut originally on the debut Bad Company album and a sizzling interpretation of the Bob Ezrin/Michael Kamen (both associated with Pink Floyd) cut "Sloe Gin." The lengthy version utilizes a false ending but it continues to smolder long after the listener thinks it is over. Outstanding among the originals is "One of These Days," a track that Joe wrote with Alvin Lee of Ten Years After fame. The hot guitar work on the song is all Bonamassa as Lee does not play on the cut. A take on John Mayall's electric blues rocker "Another Kind of Love" also shines as does a version of "Black Night," the Charles Brown classic from 1951. Topping off the covers is a take on the late great John Martyn's "Jelly Roll" where Bonamassa shows off his talent for fancy picking on acoustic guitar.

Joe Bonamassa - Black Rock - (2-LP in Gatefold Jacket, Gold Vinyl)

This 14-track offering features five Bonamassa originals and lots of covers.
And all are very tasty. The set opens with a potent take on Bobby Parker's "Steal Your Heart Away" where Joe not only plays fiery leads and an incredible mid-song solo but also imbues the lyrics with a fervent desire that's palpable. Other covers that appear early in the effort are a banging take on John Hiatt's "I Know a Place," a stunning take on Leonard Cohen's understated "Bird on a Wire" with sublime guitar playing behind Joe's vocals, and an interpretation of the classic Jeff Beck blues rocker "Spanish Boots." Other covers of note include a raucous take on Otis Rush's "Three Times a Fool," an interpretation of Willie Nelson's classic "Night Life" where B.B. King guests on lead vocals and guitar, Blind Boy Fuller's acoustic blues "Baby You Gotta Change Your Mind" and album bonus track "Can't Find No Mercy," originally recorded by Gary Wright ("Dream Weaver") on his 2010 Connected album. Standout originals include "Blue and Evil" where Bonamassa shows a little Led Zeppelin love, the rhythmic tale of romantic troubles that is "When the Fire Hits the Sea" and the bouzouki enhanced "Quarryman's Lament." All in all Black Rock is a very satisfying listen.

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