Black Stone Cherry - Black Stone Cherry - Roadrunner Records 2006
Running Time: 47:00
Say what you will about metal industry giant Roadrunner, but after well over two decades in the business, they still throw the occasional curve ball. Such is the case with Kentucky's Black Stone Cherry, a quartet who could just as easily been seen in the background of any photo from the original Woodstock...if only they were born when it happened. It's rock and roll, boys. No frills, no high-falutin' pyro, and I dare say none of these guys look like the corpse-paint type. Scared off yet? Nah? Then knock back a cold one or six, and read on.
Don't take anything I've said thus far to mean BSC is mired in some Black Crowes fog of nitrous tanks and Jamaican Red, recycling old Stones riffs in some lame-ass attempt to leap onto a bandwagon that left in the '70s. "Rain Wizard" is Badmotorfinger-era Soundgarden, but infused with a healthy dose of Leafhound and Buffalo. Vocalist Chris Robertson has that Cornell/McCaffery tone down, but the throaty moans flow so easily from his lungs that it's obviously natural. The groove of "Backwoods Gold" chugs forward like some bastardized "Train, Train" sans that kickass harmonica intro, and - appropriately enough - "Lonely Train" stutters and stomps with an early Stone Temple Pilots flair in the verses, but quickly snaps back into Raging Slab redneck rawk for the chorus and solo. Speaking of guitars, you'll find no myxolidian inverted 32nd-fret leadwork here. Just the solid, blue-collar riffs and scorching leads that seem to only come from those born South of the Mason- Dixon line, reliably executed by Robertson and Wells. The rhythm section of Jon Lawhon and John Fred Young (son of Richard Young, of Kentucky Headhunters fame) provides a granite-tough slab for much of the music found here, "When The Weight Comes Down" being no exception. The song races forward with the energy of The Four Horsemen's classic Life Ain't Easy, reveling in nothing but the sheer, unadulterated power of a Fender plugged directly into a Marshall stack. In this age of rock's resurgence (thank you COC and Black Label Society), the fact that each member contributes backing vocals is as much a rarity as that the band exists at all, much less was able to get the kind of push Roadrunner can provide. The four-part harmony is integral to the sound of Black Stone Cherry, pushing barnburners like "Shooting Star" past the redline, while bracing up the sultry, midtempo "Hell & High Water". The latter is surely the stuff of greatness, fluid leads skyrocketing over the horizon, only to be reeled back in by the driving backbeat. Rock and roll, just like daddy used to make, in the case of Black Stone Cherry. "Tired Of The Rain" ties nicely together with "Drive", both songs working that Molly Hatchet/Allman Brothers angle for all they're worth, leading into the final road warrior anthem of "Rollin' On". This could easily have fit on some of the Kentucky Headhunters later material, but as done by Black Stone Cherry, it's a "Travelin' Man" for the new generation.
I've talked long enough, to the point I've bored even myself. Here's the deal, plain and simple. With their debut, Black Stone Cherry deliver a double-barrel blast of dangerous, downhome, and vital rock and roll to the solar plexus of the garage rock and emo scenes currently clogging up the airwaves. You can't fake this shit.