Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Bernie Torme: Blackheart

Review by Alex Eruptor

He’s only gone and done it again.  Last year I wrote a feature for this website about Bernie Torme which included a positive review of his album ‘Flowers & Dirt’ and a glowing write-up of his show from the accompanying tour.  It was testament to the man’s confidence that 20 songs were included on that album and that a bunch of them were played live amongst the expected ‘hits’ and back catalogue tracks  that someone who has been in the game as long as Torme has, is expected to play.

The 20 tracks on ‘Flowers & Dirt’ were well received by the loyal fans, who enjoyed the depth and breadth of music on offer.   This time around though Bernie and band (completed by bassist extrordinairre Chris Heilman and powerhouse drummer Ian Harris) have opted for a slightly shorter and more focussed set of material that still manages to cover a lot of ground musically. The resulting 12 songs are every bit as rewarding as the previous album, and demonstrate that this is one of the finest power trios on the scene right now.

Quite how Torme coaxes such tones from his battered Strat is anyone’s guess.  It’s a very distinct style and sound, and whilst there is nothing new in rock n roll and therefore some easy reference points can be made (‘Stagestruck’ era Rory Gallagher, Hendrix at his most direct…) it needs to be said that Bernie Torme’s take on the blues-rock blueprint is as unique as anyone elses these days, and moreso than most. 

‘Golden Pig’, ‘Better Days’ and ‘Snake in the Garden’ carry on where tracks like ‘Party Town’ left off on the previous album – heavy boogie  rock  with supersonic lead guitar licks all over it.  ‘1985 (Keeper of the Flame)’, ‘Better Days’ and ‘On Fire’ provide some more mid-paced counterbalance, the latter in particular has a chorus that will stick in your head after one listen.  Track 6 ‘Flow’ has a slightly psychedelic vibe, veering between laid-back verses and heavy riffing, ‘Into the Sun’ sustains the vibe and gets almost grungey in places, then we’re back into fast-paced boogie rock with ‘Pain’. There’s some acoustic slide guitar and overdriven harmonica in the intro to ‘Steady Roller Blues’ which then kicks into the sort of tight-but-loose stompin’ beat and groove that Led Zep used to do so well.  ‘Miles to Babylon’ and ‘Party’s Over’ are two more slower numbers, each with epic guitar solos.  

Here is a 'live in the studio' video of the track 'Pain':

The following UK tour dates have been announced so far, visit http://www.bernietorme.co.uk/shows.html for more info

22nd  Oct  Keighley, The Octagon,
23rd  Oct  Troon, Ayrshire, South Beach Hotel,
24th  Oct  Edinburgh, Bannermans
28th Oct  Frome, Cheese & Grain,
30th  Oct  Birmingham, Institute,
31th Oct  London,  Borderline 
7th Nov   Oxford, The Wheatsheaf
11th  Nov  Newcastle, The Cluny
12th  Nov  Liverpool, Arts Club

14th  Nov  Brighton, The Prince Albert

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