Review: The Soul Of John Black – Good Thang
Posted on: Wednesday, Jun 29, 2011
THE SOUL OF JOHN BLACK
(Yellow Dog Records – YDR 1777)
A big favourite at Blues In The North West, it’s a pleasure to welcome the third release from John ‘JB’ Bigham – aka The Soul Of John Black – and again it is a groove-laden mix of classic soul, funk, blues, hip-hop and more, as the former Fishbone man returns to the Memphis-based Yellow Dog Records after his last album “Black John” appeared on the West Coast Eclecto Groove Records.
Bigham handles all guitar and lead vocal duties, with a tight crew also comprising of Adam McDougall (keyboards), Oliver Charles (drums), with Nikka Costa and Jonell Kennedy on background vocals. He has composed all the ten songs here, including two co-writes with Christopher Thomas, and produced the album at three different home studios in Los Angeles . . the songs dealing with the rigours of modern life and romance and family in particular.
The opening “Digital Blues” has a modern funky, hip-hop feel with ‘bubbling’ keyboards and Bigham’s jabbing guitar and ‘smooth as honey’ vocal . . a wonderful opener, that is topped by the following title cut, “Good Thang”, with it’s driving classic soul feel and a hook on the chorus to die for. The pace is taken down a little for the tale of seduction that is the soul ballad “How Can I”, with some sparkling keyboard contributions from Adam McDougall.
The hard-driving funk of “Oh That Feeling” fairly rattles along, with some fine guitar from Bigham, both rhythm-wise and a biting solo. “My Brother” is the perfect example of how he is prepared to take chances and mix the music up . . . with it’s almost spoken vocal intro and acoustic slide guitar giving a bluesy feel to it, with more funk from the keyboards of McDougall. The blues influence drives “Strawberry Lady”, with more resonator guitar, plus handclaps, synth bass and more . . . a highlight here and just made for the radio.
The lovely and sentimental “Lil’ Mama’s In The Kitchen” is a gem . . . a poppy ballad, as he deals with the impending pleasure and responsibilities of fatherhood . . . you can’t help being won over by his warm voice and the great sound created by Bigham and his fellow musicians. “I Love It” is another tune that starts with some sparse resonator guitar, before the band thunders in, with a tough guitar and synth riff that rocks along . . . I’m not suggesting Bigham is a T-Rex fan, but I can hear some of Marc Bolan in this one!
The album closer,”Dream (Turn Off The Phone)”, is a gentle ballad, again dealing with affairs of the heart, as Bigham urges his lady to “just lay back and dream” . . . a gorgeous end to a very fine album indeed that is hard to find fault with. Bigham has absorbed the influences of people he has worked with such as Miles Davis, Dr. Dre, and Eminen, and also influential artists such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, George Clinton, Jerry Butler and more to produce a ‘melting pot’ of fine music.
<a href=”http://thesoulofjohnblack.bandcamp.com/album/good-thang” _mce_href=”http://thesoulofjohnblack.bandcamp.com/album/good-thang”>Good Thang by The Soul of John Black</a>
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