Strangely enough in over ten years writing for Planetmosh this is my first review of Joe Bonamassa, so what better way to start than for review number seven hundred to be for this quite spectacular album “Now Serving : Royal Tea Live From The Ryman”. Due for release on June 11th 2021 via Provogue/Mascot Label Group, it features twelve live tracks featuring unreleased versions of songs from his twenty fourth #one album Royal Tea.
It was filmed at Nashvilles landmark venue The Ryman Auditorium for one night only and due to Covid -19 the venue was closed so the only option was a live stream gig with seventeen thousand tickets being sold with one thousand seven hundred cardboard cut outs of fans, Joe’s family and management
The DVD format features an intro from Jeff Daniels saying that the Royal Tea album is a tribute to English blues that inspired Joe and recording was planned at Abbey Road Studios in London. Joe goes on to say that a series of events postponed the album from July 2019 until January 2020 with it being finished just as Covid -19 broke so he showcased it at the Ryman a week before it was released in October 2020.
His backing band is absolutely superb to say the least as the album opens serenely with ‘When One Door Opens’ as Joe croons with feel in unison with his two female backing singers. His guitar work is like having a big hug from an old friend to make it a spine tingling set opener.
‘Royal Tea’ has a snappy snare drum intro backed by keyboard swathes followed by some hip swinging barroom boogie as he rips into some scorching wah-wah work and rock and roll raunch as it ends on a full band outro.
A sleazy shuffle for ‘High Class Girl’ captures the songs subject. It’s a tantalizing toe tapper that gets out of the gutter for some serious string bending solos.
The seismic bass guitar intro for ‘Lookout Man!’ extends throughout seven minutes of menacing vibes, given more angst from Joe’s gnarly vocals and blasts of harmonica but this song springs into life with a histrionic guitar solo that sees his fingers move on the fretboard like a spider about to strike.
Nine minutes of bliss come from ‘Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye?’. The vocals are like a broken heart being worn on its sleeve, a poignant blues number that muscles up midway for a lengthy instrumental piece of guitar heaven and the outro solo on his stars and stripes decorated Gibson Les Paul is phenomenal.
His weapon of choice for ‘A Conversation With Alice’ is a Fender Stratocaster as the feelgood opening riff and choruses make it my favourite track here as the smiles from his backing singers are truly uplifting and the outro solo brought tears to my eyes.
The psychedelic intro to ‘I Didn’t Think She Would Do It’ brought to mind The Amboy Dukes and there are touches of ‘Fire’ by Hendrix in the verses which are no bad thing. A tasty wah-wah piece is followed by not just string bending work but also mind bending!
The Wild West nuances in ‘Beyond The Silence’ could have come from a western movie soundtrack as it gently whoops and hollers in the verses until Joe steals the spotlight in the captivating choruses.
‘Lonely Boy’ is rock and roll at its rebellious best so move the furniture outta the way and start cutting a rug to harmonica overload, twin lead guitar mayhem, fleet fingered keyboards all pinned down by a watertight rhythm section. It’s not just getting the party started but still going at it until dawn.
‘Cradle Rock’ is a jaw dropping take on the Rory Gallagher classic. Joe’s slide guitar work is sublime and vocally he nails the Rory howl.
A cover of the Free song ‘Walk In My Shadow’ has more hooks than a fishing tackle store as this fiery blues roof raiser casts them at us fast and furiously.
The album closes with a heavy stomped cover of the old Jethro Tull number ‘A New Day Yesterday’ but stays faithful to the eccentricity of the original and the tour de force instrumental ‘Starship Trooper’-‘Wurm’ ending with Joe berating the cardboard cut out crowd for being one of the toughest crowds he’s played for.
The album will be available in the following formats, CD/DVD/BLU-RAY and CLEAR VINYL DOUBLE ALBUM.
Band and pre-order links are here :-https://www.mascotlabelgroup.com/collections/pre-orders I https://jbonamassa.com/ I https://www.facebook.com/JoeBonamassa/ I https://twitter.com/jbonamassa I https://www.instagram.com/joebonamassa/ I https://www.youtube.com/joebonamassaTV I https://amazon.co.uk/Royal-Tea-Live-From-The-Ryman-Joe-Bonamassa/dp/B08ZBZPZTC/?tag=plane09-21
Album track listing :-
When One Door Opens.
High Class Girl.
Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye?
A Conversation With Alice.
I Didn’t Think She Would Do it.
Beyond The Silence.
Cradle Rock (Rory Gallagher cover).
Walk In My Shadow (Free cover).
A New Day Yesterday (Jethro Tull cover)/Starship Trooper-Wurm.
Album personnel :-
Joe Bonamassa – Lead Vocals/Guitar.
Reese Wynans – Keyboards.
Michael Rhodes – Bass Guitar.
Greg Morrow – Drums.
Rob McNelly – Guitar.
Jimmy Hall – Harmonica.
Jade MaCrae – Vocals.
Dannielle DeAndrea – Vocals.