26 September 2023

Royal Tea

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Reviewed by Ian Phillips.

By Joe Bonamassa, J&R Adventures 2020.

Thanks once again to my good friend Neil from Services Australia for lending me his copy of Joe Bonamassa’s latest release.

Joe Bonamassa is an American master blues guitarist but he openly acknowledges that he came to the blues via the British interpretation of it.

In 2018 he even released a live album called British Blues Explosion recorded at Greenwich Music Time at The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich England.

For many music lovers of my generation our exposure to the blues wasn’t through listening to Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, Willy Dixon, Robert Johnson and their like but via Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Peter Green, Jimmy Page and bands like Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, John Myall’s Blues Breakers, Cream, Led Zeppelin and the R&B of The Animals and the Stones.

We only went looking for the black American originators of the blues once we’d been introduced to them by the young white Britons of the 1960s.

It had always been Joe’s dream to record at the famous Abbey Road studios in London, where many of his British heroes produced their masterworks and in early 2020 he realised that dream.

Royal Tea is a homage to British blues and the ten tracks are littered with musical references to many great British bands but unlike his earlier live album Royal Tea is all new material.

There are familiar licks from Eric Clapton, Peter Green Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and many other scattered amongst the songs on the album.

He even pays homage to one of his countrymen, Jimi Hendrix, on I Didn’t Think She Would Do It, borrowing one of Jimi’s signature musical motifs complete with great wah-wah guitar solo.

As many of you would know Jimi Hendrix first made his mark in the music world in England.

He’d been spotted by Animals bassist Chas Chandler while they (The Animals) were touring the US and Chas talked Jimi into coming to England and letting him manage him.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Royal Tea is wonderful album from an outstanding musician who is devoted to keeping the blues alive.

As he writes in the liner notes “The Blues is a universal language”.

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