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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 27, 2008
Joe Bonamasso has mastered the guitar like few blues and rock players have. His sound has tastes of Led Zepplin, Bad Company and many other great 70's bands. But more than that he has surpassed the style and built his own.
His music talks to the heart because that's where he's playing from.
If you like Allman Bros, or southern Rock and blues in general, then this is highly recommended.
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58 of 80 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2007
If you've heard about Joe Bonamassa and are wondering what all of the excitement is about, this is probably not the best place to start. This seems to be the fist release in Joe's catalog to create dissent amongst his fan base. It's not bad. It's just not great.

Joe is one of the most passionate an inspired artists to come along in years. He is a true gem for fans of blues rock. A unique and powerful vocalist with an astonishing command of his guitar. Anyone who has seen him live can attest, his explosive musicianship is jaw-dropping. As a performer Joe is humble, passionate, uncompromising, unapologetic and sincere. On his worst night he will stop you dead in your tracks and command your attention. At his best he's downright hypnotizing.

This CD doesn't come close to capturing that experience. It IS very well crafted. The performances are soulful and nuanced. The production values are impeccable. There are some nice moments. It's also rather boring, calculated, self-conscious and restrained. This is Joe's second collaboration with producer Kevin Shirley. Many of his fans are hoping it's his last. Though they wouldn't dare speak of it on the official fan forum. Just look at some of the defensive comments posted here on amazon to get an idea of the zealotry.

After hearing all of Joe's previous releases for the first time I simply couldn't wait to hear them again. I've forced myself to listen to Sloe Gin many times in an effort to identify what's missing. What's missing is the excitement of Joe as a performer. The excitement that earned him his reputation and grass-roots, word-of-mouth fan base. I hope and expect this is just a transition. And I can't wait to see him again live. I know it will be better than this disc.

If you are just getting started with Joe try Blues Deluxe, Had to Cry Today or any of his live releases (DVDs). As for Sloe Gin?... The best I can say is that it doesn't suck.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2007
I've held off making comments about this new work so I could have time to just listen to it. The past few days I've immersed myself in this album. I call it an "album" because calling it a "CD" just doesn't seem right. I purposely ordered extra copies of "Sloe Gin" so I would have a copy for at least my car and home. I also brought one to work and for the most part, since last Saturday, I've listened pretty much only to this album. I won't review it song by song, but here is how I feel about this work......

The first time I listened to this album was last Saturday and upon listening to it one time alone, I rejoined my family, looked at my wife and said, "This is a great work of art, it's not just music!" The musical blending of this album is extraordinary. For example, it starts off with two monster songs with "Ball Peen Hammer" and "One of These Days", but to then go directly to "Seagull" would have been quite a change. So what did Joe and Kevin Shirley do? Towards the end of "One of These Days" the song changes and we're eased into "Seagull." On "Ball Peen Hammer", I personally would have liked to have heard an actual ball peen hammer hitting some metal or something else to the beat of that song. I wonder if anyone had thought of that? I know, I'm a little a strange and maybe that would have been too gimmicky.

Joe's vocal power and range is better on this album than any of his past works. That, matched with his stellar use of different guitars on many songs, provides us with a constant feel of musical flow. I liked the idea of some strings being added to certain songs. It provides extra depth to the songs that they're used on. Rick Melick's piano/organ playing also adds an extra texture to many of the songs and is highlighted at the beginning of the song "Sloe Gin." Also, just when you think you've heard everything that this album has to offer, Joe throws us a major league curve with "India" as its final track. The other contributing musicians Anton Fig, Bogie Bowles, Carmine Rojas and The Bovaland Symphonic Orchestra should be commended for their work on this album. In addition, to the touring band and to all the people that support them on the road to bring this beautiful music to us let me say we all appreciate you.

In summary let me say this. I believe we've heard not just a great album of the day, but a masterpiece of work for our time and a long time to come. I really think that thirty years from now our children will be able to play this music on whatever device they'll be using at that time and it will sound just as fresh and fabulous as it does today. The only question I have is what will Joe come up with next?

As great as this album is, Joe Bonamassa live is unreal! If you ever get a chance to see him don't walk, run to buy your tickets. You'll be glad you did!!
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23 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on August 27, 2007
It's Sloe all right. Kinda the way Eric Clapton went from Slow Hand to Slow Blues to just, plain Slow/Easy Listening. I'm so sorry to say that I find this collection of tunes to be boring to the point that I would never recommend it to anyone I was trying to introduce to the Smokin' Joe who can tear up the joint.

JB is at a point where he has to decide if he's going to follow in SRV's footsteps or John Mayer's babysteps or just sell out completely and play Soft Hits All The Time. It's not easy to be in that position. I know the drill for this album: a slight, painful voice inflection, a little sly touch here and there, a mystical note in the background and a mournful lament...but none of that saves this CD for me.

Almost all of his fans agree that the sounds and boldness of his earlier albums were what attracted them to Joe B. I don't understand why they say, almost unamimously, that SILT or ANDY or HTCT or Blues Deluxe were their favorites, but they keep encouraging this Slow Down of what we consider a genius.

His most rabid fans are hoping for some kind of all-rewarding SuperStardom for this incredibly talented player. If he can put out something this "beige" and seemingly lifeless and his fans still buy it up, isn't that a sign of true Superstardom? We'll buy anything and everything from this musician.

The group of fans who give 5 stars to everything the guy does aren't helping him find himself. It must be a terribly lonely path to have people all around you incapable of critical thought and honest feedback.

Where'd you go, Smokin' Joe? Where can you go from here?
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 2, 2007
I am the biggest Bonamassa fan in Ohio but I am not a blind fan, meaning I will speak with honesty. While this release shows incredible talent and complex musical growth, it is a disappointing purchase. Naturally, I will continue to purchase his releases and go to his concerts but, JOE, you have strayed from the path. Get back to your original 3-pc and let 'er rip! I respect your direction and musicality but I think this path you are on explains why you have not hit on a larger audience. You have the talent, voice and artistry to do better.
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on November 22, 2007
Joe Bonamassa's latest is a slight departure from 2006's You & Me. While the guitar is still featured prominently, it is more in service of the song than on any of Joe's previous releases. What you get instead of his trademark searing guitar work is complicated guitar runs and riffs. There is also way more acoustic material than on any other Joe release, as this was originally intended to be an all-acoustic album, until Joe decided instead of meld together electric and acoustic. This will obviously turn off fans who love the searing guitar solos. But the fact is, Joe has broadened his pallet, becoming much more than the blues version of Steve Vai.

The album starts off with Ball Peen Hammer, a really cool medium-tempo rocker that has a nice little splash of slide guitar over it's acoustic rhythm. After that is One Of These Days, a great stomp blues that ends with a Layla-like coda. Next is the Bad Company cover of Seagull, which really showcases his vocals. Next, is my favorite song, Dirt In My Pocket, a mix of Bon Jovi's Dead Or Alive and Led Zeppelin, with a cool acoustic riff in the place of where a typical searing solo would be. Sloe Gin follows. It is probably the most talked-about song on the album, a solemn and heartbroken man who is drinking himself to death. Definitely the most artistic thing Joe has ever done, and the soloing on this album is the first glimpse of Joe's signature soloing on this record. The sirens add a nice touch before the outro solo, signifying the man in this song has tried to commit suicide, and the outro solo is either the rush to the hospital or the trip to the afterlife. Next is a really cool blues Another Kind Of Love, with its rapid-fire riff and great solos. Next is a remake of Around The Bend, originally on Had To Cry Today. It is much more laid-back than the previous version. Joe wanted to do it again because he did not like the finished product on Had To Cry Today. Black Night is next, and is a great Zeppelin-esque slow blues, and has great guitar playing in it. Next is a cover of Jelly Roll on a resonator it sounds like, a great uptempo acoustic blues. Richmond, probably Joe's best songwriting attempt, highlights his great vocals, and indeed makes you wish you were there. The set closes with India, and the name describes exactly how it sounds.

Overall, this is Joe's most differentiated album he has ever done. He has branched out, trying to be more than just a great guitar player. And I think he has done an excellent job. I know some people won't like this, and that's cool. But with this album, we see just what Joe is capable of. His vocals, once just of the shouting variety, have become a pure instrument. His songwriting has improved vastly, and hopefully this means he will be doing more of it in the future. And as always, the guitar player is there, if not more refined and willing to take a step back and service the song. I highly recommend it.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2007
The sixth album from this monster guitar player that takes another step beyond his last studio effort. Sloe Gin is a mixture of acoustic and acoustic driven power blues. Covers that are done in an original way, sprinkled with a few penned by Joe B himself. It really doesn't matter who wrote them it is the way they are performed that makes this album explode out of the speakers. Produced again by Kevin Shirley, who Joe credits with capturing his vision and taking the album to places Joe never imagined. The sound they combined to create is unlike any blues album you might have in your collection. Calling it a blues album though is selling it short. It is much more than blues. The inclusion of Paul Rogers, Seagull and Joe's acoustic ballads Richmond and Around the Bend are not what you would ever find on any other blues artists album. But that is what we have come to expect from Joe.

In Joe's earlier albums where he experiments with many styles outside of the blues box none has ever flowed as seemless as this one. In the liner notes Joe talks of sequencing the album similar to how albums were arranged in the past when there were two sides and the songs needed to meld together for continuity. Actually he made an album that you can hit play and listen start to finish and you don't even need to get up and turn it over.

Joe seems to be in touch with the spirit of all blues influenced guitar players of the classic British Blues Rock era. He has taken the amalgamation of these legendary guitar styles and successfully created his own distinct sound. The solo in the title track is an example of this. He crafts an epic classic Joe Bonamassa style outro that builds to a frenzy and ends with a dramatic feedback laced tuning altering bend. I still believe as good a guitar player as he is the most unique thing he brings to the tracks are his vocals. On his ballad Richmond they are smooth and refined only to take Alvin Lee's classic One of These Days and work his voice up to an almost shouting lament of misery.

So take my advice and head down to the local package store and get you some of that Sloe Gin. There ain't nothing else like it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2014
1. Sloe Gin
2. Ball Peen Hammer

The rest of the CD? Playin' the outfield.

But Sloe Gin and Hammer? Gets no better in this ol' lady's book.

Thanks Joe. You make me glad I have ears.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 4, 2007
The reviews to date on Sloe Gin are an interesting read. It is obvious Joe has a passionate fan base (myself included) and nearly anyone who has the pleasure of taking him in live becomes a fan.

This effort delivers much more in production than his previous CD's while still capturing Joe's explosive musicianship. Purist's lament that his works can not all clone 'Blues Deluxe', which was an outstanding showcase for his smoking guitar and soulful lyrics.

The fact is, he has grown as an artist and Sloe Gin reflects that. It would serve the purists well to acknowledge that the link to the Blues is alive and well on this new record. Artists have taken the Blues and put their own stamp on it since the days of Robert Johnson, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

In order for the Blues to endure, it has to be re-invented along the way and Sloe Gin is a fine example. From the power of 'Ball Peen Hammer' to the tasteful slow blues soloing in the title track, this is a gem to listen to. 'Richmond' might very well be Joe's first mainstream hit with it's sing along chorus and excellent acoustic arrangement.

If you have a favorite musician or band and wish every album sounded like the one that came before it, Sloe Gin is not for you. If you like to ride along as an astonishing performer like Joe matures and develops, Sloe Gin is very pleasurable listening. Slide it in your player with no pre-conceived notion on what it should be, and enjoy what it is, an outstanding all around CD.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2008
Bonamassa is one of the most talented young blues artists out there today and "Sloe Gin" may just be his best album yet. The disc is a mix of Bonamassa originals and blues covers that showcase the ever increasing range of Joe's talent. There is a bit more acoustic guitar to be found on this one, but rest assured there is plenty of Joe's electric shredding here as well. Bonamassa continues to mature as a singer as the vocals here are all very well done. The highlight of the album is the title track which was written by producer Bob Ezrin and apparently originally appeared on a Tim Curry album. The song features everything that makes Bonamassa great as he stretches out both instrumentally and vocally taking full advantage of the songs 8 plus minutes. The rest of the album is also very strong covering a myriad of blues styles. Highlights include the two rocking opening numbers "Ball Peen Hammer" and "One Of These Days". A very nice cover of Bad Company's "Seagull", an acoustic cover of one of his own tracks "Around The Bend", "Black Night", "Richmond", and the final cut "India". Really there is not a weak track on the disc as the whole thing is thoroughly enjoyable. This album has received mixed reviews from Joe's fans, but I think it is as good as anything Bonomassa has put out. If you like rocking modern guitar blues you owe it to yourself to check out Bonamassa and this is a good place to start.
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