BAG OF BONES
Released on April 27, 2012 (earMUSIC)
01. Riches To Rags
02. Not Supposed To Sing The Blues
04. Bag Of Bones
06. My Woman My Friend
07. Demon Head
08. Drink And A Smile
10. Mercy You Mercy Me
11. Bring It All Home
Japanes Bonus Track:
12. Beautiful Disaster
Joey Tempest – vocals
John Norum – guitar
John Leven – bass
Ian Haugland – drums
Mic Michaeli – keyboards
Joe Bonamassa – guitar
Anton Fig – percussion
Produced, mixed and engineered by Kevin Shirley.
Someone once told me that junkies are always chasing that first fix — and that they never find it. Well, they’re wrong.
Since crashing back to earth in 2003, Europe have undertaken such an incredible transformation that the term ‘second coming’ really is wholly justified. The return of guitarist John Norum was always an exciting prospect for their audience. Fans who ventured further than most yearned for the band to hark back to the raw metal edge of the earlier albums — before the keyboards and the perms delivered success and decline in almost equal measure.
Bag Of Bones is everything I dared to hope for — a multi-layered affair that I’m still peeling back even after several weeks of listening. Europe and producer Kevin Shirley have reintroduced the lost art of the ‘slow burner’ — one of those albums that you know you’ll still be coming back to for years to come.
“Riches To Rags” serves up an immediate dose of Norum‘s driving riffery behind Joey Tempest‘s sparkling tones. Then you’ve just got to buckle up ‘cos it’s a hell of a ride. Leading single “Not Supposed To Sing The Blues” offers radio friendly accessibility coupled with a lyric that hopefully sets the band’s agenda for some years to come. Joe Bonamassa adds slide guitar on the mid tempo title track, fingerpicking over Tempest‘s soulful plea, before “My Woman My Friend” takes the pace back a little. “Drink And A Smile” is simply sublime — steel stringed acoustic chords ring and slide over subtle blues leads… it is intoxicating. The balls out “Doghouse” was road tested on tour last year and the anthemic “Mercy You Mercy Me” follows with a chorus as big as its defiant sentiment.
So what have we got here? More infectious riffs than many guitarists would crank out in a lifetime, a rhythm section that swings as much as it thunders, and a vocalist that delivers passion, authenticity and a range of tones that make each and every track a killer. Whilst many of their contemporaries fail to deliver beyond nostalgia, Europe have achieved the unimaginable. I would be more than happy to go and see this band live and hear a post 2003 set list.
I’ve been chasing that fix for quite some time man — you have too. I bet you never thought you’d find it in a Bag Of Bones!
Reviewed by Mark Redmayne for Sleaze Roxx, May 2012