Ladies and gentlemen, we have blue smoke over Nerdville: Joe Bonamassa has officially announced a new studio album. It’s titled Blues Deluxe Vol. 2, it is out on 6 October, and the blues guitar maestro has shared the video for the album’s second single, Twenty-Four Hour Blues.
The announcement comes as some little surprise. Just last month, Bonamassa shared the video for his cover of the Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters standard I Want To Shout About It – a track that demonstrated the world’s biggest blues star’s voice, and indeed his Fender Stratocaster, are in fine fettle.
Now today, we have another cover, with Twenty-Four Hour Blues originally recorded by the Tennessee blues legend Bobby Bland for his 1974 studio album Dreamer – an album that found Bland joined by the great Larry Carlton on guitar.
As the title suggests, Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 is a companion piece or sequel to mark 20 years of the first album. It features eight covers, with Bonamassa taking on tracks by Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac and Albert King among others, plus two original compositions, and you can be sure there will a cornucopia of vintage electric guitars and tube amps on there too.
The tones on this cover of Twenty-Four Hour Blues are super premium. But again, has Bonamassa’s voice sounded better? The stage and these years of constant performance have been well spent. Perhaps this is to the vocalist what careful cellaring and the passage of time is to a fine Burgundy.
Bonamassa admits he is a little tickled that he himself has had all this time to playing the blues. The first Blues Deluxe was something of a Hail Mary.
“I you had told me 20 years ago my career would last long enough to see the 20th anniversary of this little record called ‘Blues Deluxe,’ I’m sure I would have laughed,” he said. “Blues Deluxe was my last shot after being dropped by two major record labels and my booking agent. It was then that my manager, Roy Weisman, had his first ‘all in’ moment. We would go back into the studio and record. A record that would hopefully define the direction of whatever future career I might have.”
Well, the rest is history. The blues has been good to Bonamassa, and Bonamassa has been good to the blues. Once more, Bonamassa’s good pal and production partner Josh Smith joins him in the studio. Long-time fans can now play the records back to back and compare and contrast a coltish Bonamassa at the start of this journey and, well, at 46, he is just hitting his stride.
“The contrast between a cocky 26-year-old and an established 46-year-old is considerable,” said Bonamassa. “Does the fire still burn like it did? Am I still playing hungry? Am I even good enough to pay tribute to my heroes all over again? The answer lies somewhere in this album.”
Umm, well, if the solo that sees this version of Twenty-Four Hour Blues out is anything to go by, we all have the answer. Elsewhere on the record, you’ll hear Bonamassa put his stamp on on Guitar Slim’s Well, I Done Got Over It and Bobby Parker’s It’s Hard But It’s Fair. Josh Smith wrote a track, too, titled Is It Safe To Go Home. Smith says he pushed Bonamassa to bring those vocals to the fore.
“I’d heard him sing things just messing around or when we’d be producing for other artists that I’d never heard him do on record,” said Smith. “So the songs were both chosen and written with that in mind.”