There’s something about a tight three-piece unit that is tantamount to some of the greatest blues rock live albums ever recorded. Jimi Hendrix and his Band of Gypsys, Cream: Wheels Of Fire (Live At The Fillmore), and I would still reason (I’m sure to widespread controversy) that the genre’s talisman Joe Bonamassa has never recaptured the raw energetic edge that electrified the Rockpalast. Simply put, nothing delivers the live punch of a close-knit trio.
Step forward Eric Johanson. Unapologetically flexing his own muscular brand of blues rock, there’s plenty of brawn on show in this 19-song set recorded just a few months back. This double-live album Live at DBA: New Orleans Bootleg drenches through buckets of sweat to deliver a sound that has a primitive, primal, and unapologetically raw quality.
Live albums in the modern age are egged and buttered up in the quest for ‘digital perfection. Sadly, this causes the human element that connects the listener to become estranged. Maybe it helps that Johanson possesses a tone that sounds like it could have originated in earlier blues eras, but if you want a taste of something as natural and unrehearsed as breathing fresh air, you’ve come to the right gig.
“Hammer On The Stone” instantly nails the power trio vibe with Johanson’s wonderfully thick and chewy psychedelic blues tone overlaying a low tuned, almost demonic riff that wouldn’t be out of place on the first Black Sabbath record (still their best in my humble opinion). Johanson shows a deeper side on “Changes The Universe”, but it’s far from your average power ballad, highlighted by the sublime solo that scalds the soul.
The groove of “No Tomorrow” is funky with a capital F thanks to the skin-tight rhythm section of Terry Scott Jr. on drums, and Will Repholz on bass. The bluesy prowess of Johanson is allowed to roam free and that’s never a bad thing when you can play with the different shades, speeds and styles of the New Orleans six-stringer. There’s boogie and tumble on “Buried Above Ground”, while the exquisite slow blues of “Graveyard Queen” provides the haunt and dark majesty you’d expect from such a morbid title.
If you like being caked in sludge then head down to the “River Of Oblivion”, while “Champagne and Reefer” (one of three covers) is arguably the cork popping moment of this live recording. It incarnates all that I love about this scorching show – the coalesced backing, the blistering, soulful fretwork, the improvised ebb and flow, and of course, the sheer intensity and passion that is the heartbeat of any unforgettable live blues rock show.
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Hammer On The Stone
– No Tomorrow
– Graveyard Queen
– Champagne and Reefer
The Big Hit
– Hammer On The Stone