Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Joe Bonamassa - A New Day Yesterday (2001)

Note: I'm going to combine Joe's debut album with its live companion together in this review, since they contain very similar tracklists.

1. Cradle Rock
2. Walk In My Shadows
3. A New Day Yesterday
4. I Know Where I Belong
5. Miss You, Hate You [Rock Radio Remix]
6. Nuthin' I Wouldn't Do (For A Woman Like You)
7. Colour And Shape
8. Headaches To Heartbreaks
9. Trouble Waiting
10. If Heartaches Were Nickels
11. Current Situation
12. Don't Burn Down That Bridge
*13. Miss You, Hate You [Full-Length Version]

1. Jam Intro
2. Cradle Rock
3. Steppin' Out/Rice Pudding
4. A New Day Yesterday
5. Miss You, Hate You
6. Walk In My Shadows
7. I Know Where I Belong
8. Colour And Shape
9. Trouble Waiting
10. If Heartaches Were Nickles
11. Don't Burn Down That Bridge

It's incredible going all the way back to Joe's first album as a solo artist. Surprisingly, it holds up really well, and is still great to put on at loud volumes. Joe's voice is pretty rough - that's one thing that he's improved remarkably over the last 15 years - but his guitar playing is no less exciting. It may be less calculated, but it has all the fire needed to make a guitar fan sit up and take notice. Although the feel of the album is very much in the vein of dime-a-dozen Hendrix/SRV-inspired blues rock guitar virtuosos (and there are a lot of those - not that that's a bad thing), Joe's one-of-a-kind talent manages to shine through (he's truly a guitar savant).

Most of these songs are as good if not better live, as heard on the live companion to this album (simply titled A New Day Yesterday Live). Exceptions to this rule include the extended acoustic outro to Colour and Shape, and the fact that you miss out on the guest spots when you listen to the live album - Joe brought in the likes of Rick Derringer, Leslie West, Gregg Allman, and more to record with him in the studio (how many people have that kind of superstar pull for their debut?). The songs that you won't hear on the live album include Nuthin' I Wouldn't Do (For A Woman Like You), Headaches To Heartbreaks, and Current Situation, each one of them good in their own way.

The highlight of these two albums (studio and live) is Joe's cover of the Jethro Tull song that gives them their name - A New Day Yesterday - the live version of which is so spectacular that it singlehandedly turned me into a Bonamassa fan when I heard it first on Grooveyard Records, prompting me to buy the live album and start my long and ongoing journey following Bonamassa's career. The second highlight would be Joe's cover of the Warren Haynes song If Heartaches Were Nickels, which is a fantastic example of classic, guitar-heavy, slow, sorrowful blues. I'm also very fond of Joe's mashup of Steppin' Out (a song Eric Clapton recorded with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in the '60s) and Rice Pudding (a Jeff Beck instrumental from the same period) - heard only on the live album.

But if these songs cause the rest to pale in comparison, it's only because of how good they are. I don't think there's a single song on these two albums that I don't enjoy listening to. Even Miss You, Hate You - which sounds like Joe's concession to the record company to produce a single - is fun to sing along with (but skip the radio version; the full length version with extended guitar solo is where it's at). Every one of these songs is worth mentioning, from Joe's cover of Rory Gallagher's Cradle Rock, to Walk In My Shadows, I Know Where I Belong, Trouble Waiting, and the swinging riff of Don't Burn Down That Bridge, which serves as an opportunity for Joe's power trio band to show off in concert, with extended bass and drum solos à la Cream or the Experience.

Rating: 💿💿💿 Frequent Spin

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