Friday, October 9, 2009

Black Diamond Heavies-A Touch of Someone Else's Class (2008)

"When I talked about the debut record from the Black Diamond Heavies, I made mention that they toed the line between heaven and hell, between sainthood and sin on almost every song. I talked about how rough and raw the keys were and how the kit exploded out of my headphones. I also talked - repeatedly to anyone who would listen - how kick ass these two men were.

Well, after what seems like an eternity, they are back with their sophomore release, A Touch of Someone Else's Class, and it is full of progression and changes. Sure the lineup is still in tact and some of the influences remain the same, but BDH don't seem as concerned with where they will end up when their time is up, knowing life is what it is and the only thing you can do is enjoy the ride. Aside from the terrific Nina Simone cover (Oh, Sinnerman) and the reference to Balaam's talking donkey on Numbers 22 (Balaam's Wild Ass), Leg seems to have stopped worrying about what the man above thinks.

Even on the most soulful ballad (Bidin' My Time), Leg's pontification is replaced with regret and questions about himself and the sound is bolstered by stellar backing vocals (courtesy of the Tour-ettes). It's much more personal, more fleshed out and really shows that BDH are more than just a killer blues duo that can make you spill whiskey and sweat as you stamp along on the floor.

Sure they can still hit you in the mouth with some blistering numbers - Make Some Time, as my grand dad would say, shakes like a dog shittin' razor blades under the weight of the heavy feedback on the keys and Van Campbell obliterating his kit and their take on Tina Turner's Nutbush City Limit is smoking - but they offer up a much more refined, even polished sound at times.

On the last record, they definitely drew from the RL/Model T Ford catalog, and on certain tracks - like the Model T cover (Take a Ride) or Everythang is Everythang - they still revisit those sounds, but they hit me more like the sessions RL did with Jon Spencer, right down to hovering back shouts. To me though, it's the huge shifts in sound that are even more shocking. Loose Yourself drifts to the edge of metal, with crazy arena choruses and thick sludgy sounds. Solid Gold is still a heavy jam, but it feels like the band (with the help of Dan Auberch) took the time to sand the edges - even if it was recorded in a mere three days. While this might be a bit concerning to fans that dug the first record, I'm actually surprised by how well the band makes the transition.

I could try to come up with something catchy to sum up, but the band found a little passage that totally fits - "Behold, as wildasses in the desert, go they forth to their work.""

Calling all Bob Log III/RL Burnside/early Black Keys fans. More filthy fucking blues for your inebriated evenings and whiskey infused debauchery. Go for it.

Quit grabbing my class!

1 comment:

Trey said...

Pretty good, Total Tom Waits worship