Monday, May 15, 2017

These Blues Blow

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Blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa seems to be the white blues guitar saviour of choice for this part of the 21st century, a situation that has me tipping my hat to his technical acumen , his taste in guitar heros, and the obvious work he put into his woodshedding to have those fancy chops at his disposal on demand. It's just too bad that all I get when listening intently to his long and frequent solos is the work involved in the effort to get all this text-book perfect.

This is superhuman execution without commensurate passion. No fire under all that smoke. At a younger and less discriminating age , I might have been a fan, excited by his melodramatic playing and the authenticity of his rasping growl of a voice. No so much these days, not after a lifetime debating the merits and demerits of Clapton, Winter, SRV and the legions of other guitar heroes that populated the sports arenas off American cities in the 70s, Bonamassa seems no more than the advanced student who's perfected every cliche he could from the generation previously holding court without working on his own style, that rare item called an individual voice.


What's the point, I suppose , is the enlightened way to take all this in, or ignore it outright. The last white blues guitar slinger to give me the figurative kick in the head was the late Gary Moore. Moore was the last of the great ones, I think,less so for the originality of his chops--save for the speed tested relish and elan of his riffing,little in the way of his velocity seemed new. Moore mattered , or at least impressed the Dickens out of me, because of the obvious glee with which he took command of the blues-rock form. He might not have invented it, but he certainly ownership of it. He knew what to do with the prize he commandeered.


Joe Bonamassa just bores me with all his pro forma shuffles, boogies, rockers and rave ups. Slick, well constructed, and stiff as Disney robots. Technique without spirit, that distinguishing attribute that gives mastery of complex concepts a personality that distinguishes it from other virtuosos-in-waiting, isn't art but merely mechanics.



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