Beth Hart/Joe Bonamassa: ‘Black Coffee’

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This is the third studio album that Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa have collaborated on, the first being “Don’t Explain” in 2011 and followed by “Seesaw” in 2013.  Now we have this beauty “Black Coffee”, released in January 2018.  They are all cover albums, but don’t for one second let that put you off.  The duo also have a sensational live double album called “Live in Amsterdam” from 2014.

Since hitting the ground running with his debut album “A New Day Yesterday” in 2000, Joe Bonamassa has become the most prolific artist in the world of Rock music, releasing some 12 studio solo albums, four albums in collaboration with other artists, at least 15 live albums, too many compilations to count and various DVD’s, plus also being a full time member of bands such as Black Country Communion (4 studio albums and one live album), and one studio album each with both Rock Candy Fab Party and Bloodline.  In between he has made major contributions to at least 47 other albums!

I hate to add that Bonamassa also has a very heavy tour schedule.  Apart from being on the road with his own solo band, he has been working with the likes of Eric Clapton, Stephen Stills, Buddy Guy, Stevie Winwood and Warren Haynes.  When does he sleep?  To make it all the more miraculous there has never been a drop in quality.  The man is only just 40.

By comparison Beth Hart is just a beginner, having only released 9 solo albums since her debut offering “Immortal” in 1996.  But on this album they are both equals and what an album it is too.  Having been living with it for a week, I would say it is the finest thing either of them has ever produced.  A major statement I know for such well established artists, but please have a listen before making your own mind up.

The selection of songs covered on the album is inspired, and impressive to read even before you hear a note.  Such diverse artists as Edgar Winter, Kansas Joe McCoy and Walter Vinson are all given the Hart/Bonamassa treatment.

The album starts with “Give It Everything You Got” and as the title suggests that’s exactly what they do – opening up with some distorted heavy rock guitar from Bonamassa before the bass, drums and horn section come crashing in, followed by some euphoric Beth Hart vocal styling.

This album may have Hart and Bonamassa’s name on the cover, but when they are all playing together it sounds like a really closely knit band, although there is still room for Bonamassa to let fly with some incredible soloing, as on the opening track, as well as “Joy” and “Lullaby of the Leaves” to name just three jaw-dropping solos.  It’s probably Hart though who steals the show on most songs, purely because she is just such a good and versatile vocalist (possibly the best on the planet at the moment).

Joe Bonamassa.
Joe Bonamassa.

I had always thought Humble Pie with Steve Marriot did the definitive version of Ike and Tina Turner’s “Black Coffee” on their album “Smokin’” (1972).  Not any more, these guys have nailed it and there’s a great video to go with it too!

This is surely a front-runner for the album for the year and gets a praiseworthy 5 stars.

Where to next for this couple?  With the rate they are going anything is possible.

Beth Hart.
Beth Hart.

Track List:

Give It Everything You’ve Got

Damn Your Eyes

Black Coffee

Lullaby of the Leaves

Why Don’t You Do Right?

Saved

Sitting On Top Of The World

Joy

Soul On Fire

Addicted

Baby I Love You

Musicians:

Beth Hart – Vocals

Joe Bonamassa- Lead Guitar

Michael Rhodes- Bass Guitar

Anton Fig- Drums

Reeses Wynans- Keyboards

Paulie Ceera- Saxophone

Ron Dzuibla- saxophone

Leo Thornberg – Trumpet and Trombone

Produced by Kevin Shirley

Note: Written by Mott The Dog and Hells Bells who can always be found blissed out at Jameson’s The Irish Pub Soi AR, North Pattaya.