Black Pearls

Eric Sardinas

Favored Nations, 2003

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/02/2004

Eric Sardinas is the next generation of rock/blues, taking the best elements of the greats like Led Zeppelin, ZZ Top, Jimi Hendrix and mixing in more contemporary acts like Lenny Kravitz and the Black Crowes to create a powerful blend of music that ought not be denied.

Opening track "Flames of Love" kicks off the CD with authority. Built around a searing guitar riff, the appeal of this music is thrust into the forefront. Unlike some blues/rock bands, where the rhythm section just provides a backbone for the guitarist, the trio of Sardinas, bassist Paul Loranger and drummer Mike Dupke sound like a band, adding additional ideas to Sardinas riffs. Make no mistake, as the only melodic instrument in the band, Sardinas takes the weight of the material on his shoulders. Where this release achieves what other bands cannot is with the on-the-dime drumming of Dupke and low-end throbbing of Loranger. This is a trio without anyone taking a backseat to anyone. To draw a comparison, they are a Rush of the blues. Like Rush, there is not a single instrument that takes precedent over another.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Ain't No Crime" starts with a riff borrowed from a Led Zeppelin blues stomp with Dupke driving the song through its verse and chorus. Sardinas solo on this track is impressive and soulful. This is evident in the Hendrix-inspired "Lice's Dice Blues." You can feel the groove even while the band is playing quiet during the verse. When the band crescendos, there is musicianship and power and respect for the past while paving the future of the genre. While it would be acceptable for Sardinas to steal the spotlight, that does not happen. Dupke adds some tasteful hi-hat patterns while Loranger expands the song with his basslines.

"Sorrcus Kitchen" starts out as a slow song before eventually crescendoing into a song that would be unfairly stereotyped as a rock ballad. "Four Roses" reminds me of a groove similar to what the Black Crowes would have recorded on their Shake Your Money Maker release. There is a laid-back push in the tempo that compliments Sardinas lyrics.

There's a down-home stomp on "Old Smyrm Road" that insists you tap your foot. Dupke's snare pattern drives the song and Loranger's basslines compliment Sardinas bluesy stomp. The song sounds more acoustic guitar than electric and compliments the rest of the material on this release. Additionally, Sardinas' vocals are especially soulful.

I was lucky enough to see Eric Sardinas in concert on Friday, February 20, 2004. The band played two 75-minute sets and finished playing only because the bar was going to close. You need to go to http://www.ericsardinas.com and find out when he will be in your area. The set list he played featured songs from this release as well as what must be from his first two releases. Eric Sardinas live is a monster unleashed. Wearing a hat with a rattlesnake skull, the one that is on the CD's back cover, and having his way with his guitar. As I watched him, and listened to Black Pearls the next day, I couldn't help but think "I witnessed an Eric Sardinas show before he got huge." My ticket was $10. It made me feel like someone who had seen Led Zeppelin play in a bar before they made it big.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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