All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

5

Big Head Todd and the Monsters: Black Beehive

Doug Collette By

Sign in to view read count
Big Head Todd & The Monsters have maintained a solid and occasionally high profile since their formation in 1986. Regular studio and road work has produced a fairly extensive discography of albums and DVD's as well as authorized concert recordings, including their previous project under the pseudonym Big Head Blues Club, 100 Years of Robert Johnson, the flavor and style of which tribute to the seminal bluesman Robert Johnson carries over to Black Beehive.

Produced by Steve Jordan, a musician of no little cache himself, having worked with Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and John Mayer among others (in addition to compiling a noteworthy resume of session credits), this is one of BHTM's more inspired works, quite likely due to the aforementioned touch-point with their roots. All original material from guitarist/vocalist Todd Park Mohr features instrumental accents beyond the core quartet including steel guitar and harmonica that decorates the understated shuffle of "Travellin' Light" and, as with the crisp piano dominating the title song, reflects nuances of the songs as well as the solid if unexciting musicianship that radiates the group's gusto for their music.

The opener "Hey Delila" sets the tone for the album with sly bluesy touches emphasized by contrast with acoustic guitars. Similar folk influences form the primary source of style for "Everything About You," and the quiet closing of "Forever Bonnie," suggesting an unplugged approach would suit Big Head Todd and The Monsters without sacrificing the style they've nurtured, except perhaps the guitar heroics of the leader that take over the middle of this cut.

The dirty riffing of "Seven State Lines' exemplifies Jordan's production touch because it's such a change of pace from its predecessor and the pop structured "Josephine" that follows; Mohr's got an inviting voice in and of itself and, like his main role model Eric Clapton, he's become a more interesting singer over time, so much so, that his vocals are almost as much of an attraction as his guitar playing and a bonafide virtue as Black Beehive unfolds.

The unity of the band serves well the compact clean tracks, though a single cut with extended improvisation would elevate the impact of the record. The relish BHTM bring to what they do is out of proportion to its emotional depth otherwise, especially noticeable on overt personal statements the like of "We Won't Go Back" or the topical "Fear Greed and Ignorance," where percussion lightens the self-consciously portentous mood.

More stylists than innovators, Big Head Todd & The Monsters nevertheless continue to prove loyal to their muse, almost relentlessly so. As a result, while it's hard to truly love Black Beehive, it's virtually impossible not to like it largely because of the band's commitment to their craft.

Track Listing: Hey Delila; Everything About You; Seven State Lines Josephina; Black Beehive; We Won't Go Back; Fear, Greed and Ignorance; Hubert's Dream; I Get Smooth; Travellin' Light; ​Forever Bonnie.

Personnel: Todd Park Mohr: vocals, guitar; Rob Squires: bass; Brian Nevin: drums; Jeremy Levin: keyboards, pedal steel; Ronnie Baker Brooks: guitar; Eddie Shaw: harmonica, saxophone; Steve Jordan: guitar, drums, percussion, backing vocals.

Title: Black Beehive | Year Released: 2014 | Record Label: Shout! Factory

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read SuperClusters CD/LP/Track Review
SuperClusters
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Your Queen Is A Reptile CD/LP/Track Review
Your Queen Is A Reptile
by Chris May
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Melodious Drum CD/LP/Track Review
Melodious Drum
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 21, 2018
Read The Speed of Dark CD/LP/Track Review
The Speed of Dark
by Geno Thackara
Published: February 21, 2018
Read Love & Peace CD/LP/Track Review
Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read La Saboteuse CD/LP/Track Review
La Saboteuse
by Chris May
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "Avenida Graham" CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Thinking, Whistling" CD/LP/Track Review Thinking, Whistling
by Anthony Shaw
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Honey And Salt" CD/LP/Track Review Honey And Salt
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 10, 2017
Read "Sing Me Some Cry" CD/LP/Track Review Sing Me Some Cry
by John Sharpe
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Good Merlin" CD/LP/Track Review Good Merlin
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: August 19, 2017
Read "Loafer's Hollow" CD/LP/Track Review Loafer's Hollow
by Mark Sullivan
Published: March 4, 2017