His playing we can (but shouldn’t) take for granted, just like how his voice improves with every album. So the question is: how does this stack up against Dust Bowl?
Similar in format – a roughly 50:50 mix of covers/originals, line-ups that vary from song to song, a few star-turn guests, produced by Kevin Shirley – initially it seems more of the same. But take a cue from the title, road-test them back to back in the small hours of the morning, and this one gets you there faster.
No hit singles, of course, but more you’ll want to hear live. Be they funky-heavy opener Dislocated Boy, the little-known Bernie Marsden blues Place In My Heart (from Stacks, 2005), or his leviathan reworking of Robert Johnson’s Stones In My Passway (as if Zeppelin reformed just to get medieval on it).
Aerosmith’s Brad Whitford is on that, and a stunning Lonely Town Lonely Street (a Bill Withers song from 1972), alongside superb organ playing by Arlan Schierbaum. And Jimmy Barnes reprises his 1987 Aussie No. 1 Too Much Ain’t Enough Love for the album’s finale…
But this beats Dust Bowl because JB works harder lower down the order – Tom Waits’ New Coat Of Paint sandwiched between his own Heavenly Soul and Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go maintains the quality to the chequered flag.