EP REVIEW: Black Stone Cherry – Black to Blues EP

Front cover of the EP Black Stone Cherry Black to Blues

Black to Blues EP
Audio CD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: EP
29 September, 2017

‘Absolutely fantastic’ are two words that pretty adequately describe just how good Black to Blues from Black Stone Cherry is. A rip-roaring tribute to Howlin’ Wolf, Freddie & Albert King and Muddy Waters, this hard-edged, sextet will have you both reaching instantly for the volume button and disappointed there’s no more crank left in your tired out machine.

The tongue in cheek Howlin’ Wolf number Built For Comfort opens things and woe betide anybody who isn’t up and strutting their stuff the moment it does. Chris Robertson is clearly having an absolute blast, his guitar becoming a living beast while his clean, saw- edged vocalisation is rising more than a notch or two in glee with each passing word. Indeed, so raw is this track it should be cauterised for fear of infectious spontaneous enjoyment becoming the norm.

More of the same? Not a bit of it. Champagne & Reefer is clearly old school blues through its heart and soul, but here Muddy Waters’ iconic status is given a lick of shining paint and around 1,000 volts of energy. An outstanding inferno in its own original right, in BSCs hands Champagne & Reefer becomes something Daenerys Targaryen: Mother of Dragons would struggle to tame.

Freddie King’s Palace of the King is all power and sword-edged brilliance; the thumping beat supplied by John Fred Young on drums and John Lawhon on bass evolving into a sonic boom rolling beneath the heaviest, darkest clouds. Robertson’s guidance of the ship entire, however, avoids any rocks superbly.

Then, just when it is impossible to imagine anything more exultant, comes Muddy Water’s Hoochie Coochie Man like it’s never been heard before. Dirty, raw, mean, dangerous … my word oh my … what a tune and then some!

Born Under A Bad Sign exemplifies the excitement Black Stone Cherry are creating with whatever they turned their hands too. Being fair, blues isn’t what the band are best known for but you’d never know that from listening to this marvellous reimagining of arguably Albert King’s finest hour.

Closing on Waters’ funky, upbeat and timelessly classic I Want To Be Loved is a masterstoke so that in a world filled with such bleakness at times, Black to Blues becomes such shimmering shaft of sunlight, we would all do well to cling hold of it and welcome it into the bosom of our hearts.

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