It’s frightening to think that 20 years have passed since Joe Bonamassa released ‘Blues Deluxe’ and triggered a stellar career.
20 Years on, he has released a second ‘Blues Deluxe vol 2’. The original was recorded to celebrate “The year of the Blues” and this has been released as a sort of ‘taking stock’ of how far he has come in that 20 years.
“If you had told me 20 years ago my career would last long enough to see the 20th anniversary of this little record called ‘Blues Deluxe,’ I’m sure I would have laughed,” Bonamassa reflects. “Blues Deluxe was my last shot after being dropped by two major record labels and my booking agent. It was then that my manager, Roy Weisman, had his first ‘all in’ moment. We would go back into the studio and record. A record that would hopefully define the direction of whatever future career I might have.”

Produced by Josh Smith, the album feature 8 covers and a couple of originals - 'Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again)' & 'Is It Safe To go Home'.
“Part of my approach to these new recordings was that I wanted to see if I had matured musically over the years, and if I had gotten better as a player,” Bonamassa says. “I’m happy to say that I am a much better singer than I was 20 years ago - though I still don’t really consider myself to be a legit ‘singer,’ I can now carry a tune a little better than I could back then.”

I have to say that one thing is immediately apparent, he’s right, Joe’s vocals are miles on from his performance on the original.
His guitar playing is more focused, less fret-wankery than on the original and his use of horns instead of relying on keyboards to produce the full-on sound is definitely an advance. There is a sense of this being more about the songs than just about Joe Bonamassa and I’m sure his collection of original guitars and amps was put to very good use.

Covers include Bobby Blue Bland’s ’24 Hour Blues’ which opens the album and is packed with Bonamassa’s guitar at it’s most biting and soulful.

“I Want To Shout About It,” originally performed by Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters has a great swing to it and Guitar Slim’s “Well, I Done Got Over It” has a spare and hard sound while Bobby Parker’s “It’s Hard But It’s Fair” roars out of the speakers with a soul swagger.
As ever, Bonamassa pays tribute to Peter Green with a version of ‘Lazy Poker Blues’

My personal favourite is a Bonamassa original – ‘Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again) is a load of fun, full of Tower Of Power style funky horns and a real funky strut to the whole number

It’s a bloody fine album, showing just how far Joe Bonamassa has come and how well he treats great heritage songs.