Black John is actually John Bigham, who some music listeners may know from his days with Fishbone or as a percussionist with Miles Davis. Bigham’s latest effort is a powerful mix of soul, R&B, and gospel that shows he knows his way around a groove as a guitarist and singer. Cuts like “Black John” contain a powerful story and a mix of gospel, funk, and soul powered by Bigham’s slinky guitar grooves, while the chorus from “Betty Jean” is burned deep in your body, mind, and soul.
While most of the tones are electric Fender sounds that weave in and out of songs, a couple cuts rely on nasty acoustic. Like the soulful, “Last Forever,” where a sly dobro gives way to electric guitar cranked through a wah pedal. Same goes for “I Knew a Lady,” with nasty funk set up by electric guitar, with a fine, melodic acoustic solo. As it fades, a chorused electric solo lets Bigham show off his rock-and-roll chops.
Bigham shows pop music leanings, too, on cuts like “Better Babe” and “Push Into the Night,” the latter being a melodic minor-chord song that emphasizes radio leanings. And “Thinking About You” is a lovely acoustic folk tune that serves as the perfect capper.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s May. ’09 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.