Review: The Soul of John Black – Black John

Posted on: Monday, Apr 6, 2009


Black John – The Soul of John Black

Eclecto Groove Records – EGRCD504

The Soul Of John Black is the nom de musique of John Bigham, whose impressive resume includes a stint as percussionist with the Miles Davis band, eight years of guitar and keyboard work with the pioneering rock-funk-ska band Fishbone, and touring and session work with Dr. Dré, Eminem, Nikka Costa, Bruce Hornsby and Everlast, just to name a few.

The Soul of John Black – my favourite of the year so far.

A bit of a delay on the review on this excellent release on the fabulous Eclecto Groove Records.  I was going to coordinate the review with the release but I missed that by a mile and this CD is out and available in the wild. The policy of the Eclecto Groove  would be to put out the great records that don’t fit with the pure blues criteria on the sister label Delta Groove.  So far the Eclecto Groove records that I have heard have been superb.

The Soul Of John Black has already gone straight into number one place on my ongoing list of best of the year, I am certain that it will remain in the running for the remainder of the year and will be at least top three at the final count.

If you are a blues purist or the kind of person who requires categorisation of music then this record could cause you some problems. It is a perfect mixture of numerous styles that may require the purchase of several copies to file in all the categories that it covers. You would need a copy under soul, one under funk, one under blues one under hip hop and a half copy under reggae. The record however is not a ragbag mixture of random songs thrown together; each song complements totally the others and each one fits perfectly into the funky framework.

The recording is perfect, it is beautifully produced with a lush, intimate modern feel but not in the slightest bit overproduced. There is more soul and groove in the centre hole of this release than in the whole of the current top twenty chart records combined.  My favourite cut is the bluesy hip hop of “Last Forever”.

The playing is perfect, the backing vocals perfect and the main vocal of Black John is stunning.

One of the strengths is that the majority of the songs build beautifully and each one has a soulful and bluesy groove.

So don’t waste any more time reading this review – get out there and get a copy.

Available at Amazon and others.