Review: Dennis Jones – Pleasure and Pain

Posted on: Saturday, Oct 10, 2009


“Pleasure & Pain”

(Blue Rock Records)

For those who like their blues driven by muscular guitar work this latest offering from LA-based Dennis Jones will appeal – 11 original songs highlighting his assured vocals and rocking playing, backed by the rhythm section of Michael Turner (drums) and Tony Ruiz (bass).

The Baltimore-born Jones was a drummer as a youngster, picking up the guitar at 13, and absorbing the influence of legends such as Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter and Jimmy Page, and blues players such as the three Kings, and soul men such as Al Green, James Brown and the sound of Motown.

After a spell in Germany in the armed forces, he relocated to Los Angeles in 1985, initially fronting a band called Blackhead, who played a blend of funk and rock, before heading out on his own in the 1990s.

The opening “Brand New Day” features the horns of Jimmy Z (saxophone) and Lee Thornburg (trumpet and trombone) on an uptempo soulful number, followed by the funky groove of “Don’t Worry About Me”. The blues shuffle of “I’m Good” has a blistering solo mid-song, before the rolling “Kill The Pain” – a song about the problem of cocaine abuse – some mighty fine guitar work here.

Possibly the highlight of the album is the lovely pop-flavoured ballad, “Sunday Morning Rain” – a tale of romantic loss, with gorgeous guitar hook. The thunderous rocker “Try Not To Lie” sees him in almost Gary Moore territory, with roaring solo again. He keeps the rock edge again on “I Want It Yesterday”, with a heavy riff and passionate vocal.

“Him Or Me” sees more guitar fireworks from Jones, with the album closer, “Hot Sauce” being an almost rockabilly tear-up, with a Hendrix quote from “Third Stone From The Sun” thrown in for good measure!

Dennis Jones rock-leanings won’t be to every blues fans taste, and indeed it took a good few plays for the tunes to grow on me . . . . but for those with open ears there is plenty to enjoy here in the 11 tracks. He is a fine guitarist and singer, with a good tight rhythm section behind him in Michael Turner and Tony Ruiz.


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