Joe Bonamassa might still have the blues, now and forever, but he has also got the funk, as new single Hope You Realize It (Goodbye Again) can attest to – the latest track to be shared from the blues guitar superstar’s forthcoming album, Blues Deluxe Vol. 2.
It’s an all original composition, one Bonamassa said had been kicking around in search of a home. When he needed a party starter for the new record, it was time to get down to business.
Hope You Realize It… is Bonamassa as you’ve never heard him, or rather we don’t often hear him. In a more topsy-turvy time line this could be him sitting in with ‘70s Bay Area funk and R&B institution Tower Of Power, demonstrating just how a simply adjustment in his blues phrasing can make the electric guitar sit proud over a strutting funk rhythm a la What Is Hip?
Is Joe Bonamassa hip? Well, just last night he was posing in Uggs with his Tommy Bolin ‘Burst in an Instagram post, but when you are at home prepping your gear for a three-night stint in Los Angeles, it is comfort that matters. Besides, they go with the rug. You do you, Joe. He sure has shown some form for funk, recently sitting in with Scary Pockets for a funk cover of AC/DC's Back In Black.
But Hope You Realize It… is an arrangement more dressed up for a Friday night. It’s not a risk from Bonamassa. He has cultivated an audience that expects him to though some curveballs, to reference his ‘70s prog influences, as he did on the expansive Time Clocks, or to go full-on funk as on this.
Bonamassa says the Tower Of Power influence is upfront and right there in front of us. There’s no point in denying it.
“This is a song that I wrote with Tom Hambridge, and we did a real Tower Of Power treatment on it,” says Bonamassa. “Now, the whole thing about Blues Deluxe Vol 2,’ we tried to keep the same ratio of covers to originals as on Blues Deluxe Vol 1., so we needed an upbeat song and I had this song kind of laying around for over a year. Calvin Turner wrote a killer funky horn part, and we just did like a Tower Of Power take on it and made no apologies about it. It’s just the nature of the groove and everything else – you have to tip the hat.”
Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 is a sequel of sorts to the album that saved Bonamassa’s career. Bonamassa is now, by most metrics, the world’s highest-grossing blues player, and relentlessly prolific onstage and on both sides of the control room in the studio.
If he’s not making a record with his name above the door he is co-producing someone else’s alongside Josh Smith – who also plays guitar on his latest album. Twenty years ago, the future didn’t look that bright.
“Blues Deluxe was my last shot after being dropped by two major record labels and my booking agent,” said Bonamassa in June. “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.”
Blues Deluxe Vol. 2 features covers of Fleetwood Mac, Guitar Slim, Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters, Albert King and more. Kirk Fletcher guests on it. It is out in record stores 6 October via J&R Adventures, and available to preorder now. Order here if you are in the UK. Fans in the US should head to Joe Bonamassa.