30 September 2008

BLACK DiAMOND HEAViES - A Touch of Someone Else's Class



Black Diamond Heavies have recently released their second album as a two piece and I call bonus points to Alive Records for having the ears and cojones to support some of the toughest blues infected music out there. A Touch of someone Else's Class , is technically the Black Diamond Heavies fourth album if you include their first album You Damn Right with guitarist Mark "Porkchop" Holder and the great lost and unreleased followup titled All To Hell (some tracks from All To Hell ended up on their first duo piece titled Every Damn Time). Live they are unbeatable. Each show is a death-defying no-holds-barred low down sexy tight fatass hunch boogie thrillscape of keys and drums and bad side of the track vocals that will knockout all comers. This is a band that all other bands should fear having to follow on stage. The new album is a fine and simple expansion on the previous albums raw dirty blues and super soul and I LOVE it! It's exactly what I was hoping for from them. Subtle new directions, flavors and growth while remaining the same BDH we dig. The first single Bidin' My Time is a gorgeous heartbreaking slow song for all the ladies in the house (and the brothers who ain't got no ladies) and a delicious departure thanks in part to the addition of (Black Key's drummer Patrick Carney's Uncle) Ralph Carney's sax work and the backing vocals of The Tour-ettes. This track and their original take on Dr. Nina Simone's Oh Sinnerman as the real glaring standouts on this set, tho the addition of Black Key Dan Auerbach on guitar on the album closer Happy Hour is a treat as well. Happy Hour also features John Wesley's first use of tack piano which is a cool new texture as well. All the songs on this album show the artistic growth that comes from relentless touring and the BDH are heading in a truly rightous direction . If I have any gripe it would be in the production. It's often sonically too lo-fi and distorted which lends the album a same-y-ness that troubles me a bit, when considering the quality of the material, and it gets in the way of the BDHs own brand of punkass wigged out heaviness. The BDH are bad as hell by themselves with out forcing the needle into the red for emphasis. I understand recording time was limited, which can be a good thing, but a touch more refinement would be welcome. I'd love to hear them record with Paul Beat of Mudlow, or perhaps as a commenter at Ninebullets blog suggested, working with producer Dennis Herring who recorded Buddy Guy's North Mississippi hill country homage Sweet Tea to get that natural sound. Inspite of this small qualm Black Diamond Heavies have succeeded in making their finest and most varied album yet. I cannot wait for the next slab of Black Diamond Heavies brand dirty punk blues soul power.

Black Diamond Heavies- A Touch of Someone Else's Class BUY iT!
Black Diamond Heavies- Every Damn Time- BUY iT!

Number 22 (Balaam's Wild Ass)
MP3

Bidin' My Time MP3

Happy Hour MP3

Black Diamond Heavies @ Deep Blues Festival 2008

2 comments:

Chris said...

Rick, good review and good hesitation which I have not seen in prior reviews of db type bands. BDH's are full tilt boogie_able and they have proven it. How many people will understand that, including patrick at alive will realize that the big picture(5000+ sales) will have to rely on recordings that stand alone...and are not period pieces that reflect the time in which they're recorded as being an uber-overt influences and market to the "Pre-BDH fan club" rather than the "Post white-striped generation."
Also, I don't know where Mr. Herring's list of client preferences is(nor do I know where the money to pay for him is)but after the modest mouse and buddy guy and mr costello and everyone else he can make a great record for anyone whom has a solid skill and some good songs. BDH might just fare as well with a mr. jack white if they could get a bank to loan them the cash.
I want to hear the record though as this is more of an op_ed than anything,
best,
cotton

Pete Ross said...

Right on Rick.
When I heard 'Fever In My Blood' for the first time my brain melted.(typically I become hysterical and start laughing out loud when faced with music that blows me away)

Granted, the lo-fi production style heard on their records isn't everyone's cup of tea - But I don't think there is any other way to those songs could have been recorded. The immediacy and grit of the recordings IS what makes them timeless. For me, that is what punched me square between the eyes when I first heard them. It was like nothing else. The signature blown out sound of the recording is the perfect compliment to the songs.

The Black Diamond Heavies records have a sound you can feel - and it feels good.