Black Country Communion have come back with their second album seemingly only a little while after the first but in the meantime they have also managed to continue highly successful individual careers with Bonamassa releasing a superb new album, Glenn Hughes touring with his own band, Jason Bonham playing with a great number of very different artists and Derek Sherinian working with the likes of Steve Lukather; you wonder when they were able to find time to get together on this followup.

One advantage of the way that Black Country Communion have carried on their careers though, is that when they do get together the power and the freshness are continued and ‘2’ doesn’t just carry on from where the first album left off but powers along with real punch and develops their sound to new territories.

All of the best features of the first album are still here – the impassioned vocals of Hughes, the subtle and searing guitar work by Bonamassa, the powerful yet subtle drumming of ‘The Kid’ Jason Bonham and Sherinian’s keyboards but Kevin Shirley has increased the intensity of the production this time around and in bringing the keyboards a little more into the mix has made the band sound both more like the true seventies monsters of rock and also emphasised the quality of the songs – if I were hearing this without having heard the first album it would stand high as one of the best albums of the 21st Century.

There are eleven tracks on the album and if I only touch on the highlights it will probably include most tracks but from the start it is varied and rich.

‘The Outsider’ is a monstrous slab of rock, riffs aplenty a couple of great solos from Joe B, drums hammering away like jackhammers and Hughes vocals all throaty and impassioned but the organ comes to the party a lot more here and the whole thing is a tour de force.

‘The Battle For Hadrian’s Wall’ starts off with acoustic from Bonamassa and a simple organ tone behind with Hughes actually singing the song develops into something that Zeppelin at their best could have delivered – a folk/rock triumph.

‘Save Me’ has touches of last year’s ‘Medusa’, huge and dark and loaded with menace and fear.

‘Smokestack Woman’ is a classic blokes Blues – balls out and funky with a great dirty feel to it all.

They show in track after track that their talents are not just in any set form – they can turn as easily to a number like ‘Faithless’ with faintly arabesque forms or ‘I Can See Your Spirit’, fast and heavy, very like Purple at their peak or a straight Blues on ‘Little Secret’ – 7 minutes of pure delight.

I have listened to the album through half a dozen times already and I just cannot pick one track that sums them up or one that I would rather listen to than any other.

Black Country Communion succeed where other supergroups fail because as a unit all their strengths are complementary and the music gives them all a chance to shine and also because the production is such that the songs are the stars alongside the players. If this is what BCC are capable of I will be looking forward to where they can take it but I’m loving the here and now.

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