Friday, July 8, 2016

Black Country Compilation (Preface)

So, I was starting to think about my fourth disc's worth of greatest hits that I've been compiling over the last ten years or so, as I chronicle the continuing musical career of Joe Bonamassa - who, through time and longevity, has proven to be my all-time favorite musical act, rivaling even the likes of Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd. Actually, if you want to put it consecutively, while Pink Floyd was my favorite band and characteristic of my high school years, and Led Zeppelin was my favorite band and characteristic of my college years, you could say that Joe Bonamassa is my favorite musical artist and characteristic of my post-college, adult years.

Anyway, as I was saying, I was starting to think about my fourth disc's worth of Joe Bonamassa's greatest hits, and getting it into my head that I could someday do what my compadre Tenzin Swift has begun doing to honor one of his favorite musical artists - and another artist with a long and lucrative career - Neil Young, by compiling the artist's 100 greatest songs. (I have no doubt at all in my mind that even before the end of Joe Bonamassa's career, I will be able to put together 100 songs worthy of a greatest hits mega-compilation, and that's even if he's less prolific from here on out than he's been so far - I'm already at least halfway there and he's only been putting out music for about 15 years so far).

Ahem. So I was thinking about my fourth greatest hits compilation (not including two discs' worth of top quality live material from the Tour de Force), and it hit me that I could do a whole disc just from Joe Bonamassa's tenure in the supergroup Black Country Communion. You could probably do a whole other disc on Joe's collaborations with various artists - call it Joe Bonamassa & Friends - including Beth Hart and Rock Candy Funk Party, but frankly, I just don't find myself as inspired by those projects because they veer a little too far from what I like about Joe's music, which is the blues and the rock. I think it's fantastic that he has these projects for people who maybe have more eclectic tastes, or who are into other genres like funk and soul, and it definitely demonstrates his undeniable virtuosity.

But out of all his side projects, Black Country Communion is by far my favorite, because it's a good old-fashioned hard rock supergroup. And while compiling greatest hits for Joe's solo career is a messy endeavor, given that he's continuously and consistently putting out new material every year (I'm a huge Bonamassa fan, and I go out and buy his albums religiously, and even I have trouble sometimes keeping track of everything he's doing, and everything he's putting out); plus, there's the fact that there are not usually clear dividers between where one compilation should end and the next should begin. Eras and stuff like that become evident only in hindsight, and just not enough time has passed to determine that. I mean, you can't even separate it into decades because it's only been one and a half so far!

I was even toying with the idea of doing one disc of acoustic material (Joe Bonamassa Unplugged), culled from various albums and live shows (not just the Acoustic Evening at the Vienna Opera House concert he put out), but my motivation wavered when I realized that while there are some great acoustic tracks, I just don't know that I like acoustic music enough to make a whole disc out of it. But I might change my mind in a decade or two.

Getting back to the topic at hand (I had no idea I'd end up going on this many tangents, but I guess it makes sense - this stuff has been brewing in my head for years, and this is the first time I've put it down on paper - er, typed it on a screen?). Barring a future reunion album/tour (let's all keep our fingers crossed!), for better or worse, Black Country Communion has come and gone. They put out three strong studio albums, and one fantastic live album, which means there's a finite amount of material for me to work through in order to pick out one disc's worth of the best (five discs - the live album is a double album - down to one is a pretty strong distillation). So I spent the last month or so totally binging on Black Country Communion (it was awesome - what a great band), and I think I've finally decided on a tracklist. It wasn't easy, but I'm pretty satisfied with the results.

See the list and my comments here.


  1. I'm happy to see you doing something like this. I know that it's not the first time or anything but this is/was one of my hobbies as well and it's always good to see that I'm not alone. I can't really judge Black Country Communion but if someone would maybe front me a disc I could definitely give my perspective -- maybe it'd be interesting coming from someone who is not very familiar with the band.

    "was even toying with the idea of doing one disc of acoustic material ... I just don't know that I like acoustic music enough to make a whole disc out of it. But I might change my mind in a decade or two."

    I relate to this on two levels. Firstly are you expecting your taste to change, or are you just expecting him to come out with more good acoustic material? 'Cause I definitely sometimes think things like "when I'm older I'll probably really like country music" or "when I'm older I'll probably really like Neil's later stuff."

    I also relate based on trying to choose the right number of discs and the right type of discs. One of my ongoing projects is for best-ofs of my top bands and the general idea is to have two discs, one of live material and one of studio material. But then since most bands have 10 times as many studio albums as they have live albums, it starts to get muddled, like... lesser quality live cuts end up on the set just out of necessity.

    And then you have massive catalogs like Neil and Petty where I can do 4 each, live acoustic, live electric, studio acoustic, studio electric.

  2. Never mind I see you put a download link in the next article.

  3. Funny story. I actually stayed up late before heading out to camp last weekend, in order to burn a disc, since I figured I could give it to you. But when I burned it, one of the tracks came out scuffed, so I tossed it. That's why I put up a download instead. ;-)

    Yeah, I can definitely see where you're coming from on your musical tastes changing from one decade to the next. But I definitely meant it in terms of maybe he'll put out more good acoustic songs. (I actually don't like the tracks on the acoustic concert album as much as the acoustic sets on other live albums because they sound *too* acoustic - like with esoteric instruments (nyckelharpa?) added on and stuff). Joe himself admits that he's an electric player (which is one of the reasons I love him so much), and not acoustic. Not that he doesn't have the skill, for sure, but if it's not what you're passionate about...

    But again, as I said, one or two tracks every several albums could certainly add up to a whole disc in the long run - provided I don't decide to just integrate them into the regular greatest hits. Which might be a better idea, after all, given that too much acoustic Joe at once doesn't give you the caffeine buzz you need.