Bernie Marsden has been playing the blues for over 40 years. Most of that was spent playing in bands like the early Whitesnake, UFO, and his own band Alaska, none of which most of us would associate with the blues. However, if you listen closely to any of those bands or any of his 18 previous solo albums you can hear the blues roots in all of them. Recorded at Abbey Road studios, Shine clearly delivers blues rock with a 13 track powerhouse of an album that’s filled with a wide variety of tracks.
A cover of an old blues track recorded by Leadbelly, “Linin Track,” uses a lo-fi steel guitar to establish the blues underpinning that flows throughout this album. The track eventually kicks it into gear through and things drift into the hard blues rock territory that is clearly reminiscent of Bernie’s time spent in early Whitesnake. “Wedding Day” then continues with the ’70s rock groove. From there we move forward a decade in style to “Walk Away,” which clearly sounds like something straight off of an ’80s commercial rock station. “Kinda Wish She Would” turns things up with a Texas Roadhouse guitar riff that minus the excellent honky-tonk piano of Don Airey throughout could have been torn right out of the ZZ Top catalog.
We finally get to slow down and catch our breath during the slow groove of “Ladyfriend” where Mark Feltham gives us some marvelous harmonica work. Bernie and fellow Whitesnake band member David Coverdale reach back to their first album and deliver a delta-soul steel guitar loaded version of their classic “Trouble” from their first album. “Who Do We Think We Are” has a happy inspirational message and ’80s feel to it which is a sort of dichotomy when you really listen to the questions posed in the song. Cherry Lee Mewis guests on “Bad Blood” and lends grit with her vocals to another smoke filled roadhouse styled track. The guest spots continue with the title track which features the twin guitar attack of Bernie and Joe Bonamassa.
A cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dragonfly” is clearly a tribute to Peter Green with its smooth lyrical guitar runs and soaring tone. “You Better Run” steps on the gas pedal and we return to the fast paced blues rock style that started his career. Bernie breaks out the wah-wah pedal for “Hoxie-Rollin Time” and treats us to a rolling shuffle. Everything wraps up with a resonator guitar driven instrumental track that seems like it could be an old folk song like the classic “Danny Boy.”
Shine is by far Bernie’s best work to date. Filled with some great guest spots, some interesting covers, and a great collection of tracks this is one that you will play from end to end.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Kinda Wish She Would
– Bad Blood
– Wedding Day
The Big Hit
– Kinda Wish She Would
Review by Kevin O’Rourke