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Dennis Jones: CD Reviews

REVIEWS - "BOTH SIDES OF THE TRACK"

 

Both Sides Of The Track is the fifth album from L.A.-based Dennis Jones and it’s a meaty slab of guitar-led modern blues-rock with a solid helping of funk on the side.
Ably supported by the dynamic rhythm section of Dale Black on bass and Raymond Johnson on drums, singer-guitarist Jones (who also wrote all the tracks) serves up 13 tracks that cover the full range of the blues-rock spectrum. At one end, there’s the balls-to-the-wall rock of “It All Depends” with its ascending start-stop verse chord progression and the wah-driven “Nobody’s Slave” where Jones sings with barely-concealed fury over the top of a descending chord progression that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Guns & Roses’ album. At the other end, there’s the upbeat acoustic guitar and harp of “What” and the modern acoustic shuffle of “Lonely Joint” with its striking lyrical image, ostensibly of a joint falling out of someone’s pocket onto the street but with the clear undertone addressing the wider societal problem of homelessness.
Jones sings in a smooth, warm, powerful baritone, which is especially effective on the gentler “When You’re Not Around.” He also plays incendiary lead guitar, firing licks and solos across the tracks like a modern day Johnny Winter.
The heart of the album is muscular blues-rock, as on “Skin And Bone”, where Jones artfully contrasts acoustic verses with roaring riff-driven choruses before a full band breakdown for the start of his solo, which slowly builds back up again to the ferocious chorus. But Jones and his compadres are equally impressive on the funky uptown blues shuffle of “Number Two”, the Albert King-esque slow blues of “Mr Right” or when dialing back the overdrive, as on the funky “Better Than Him”, where the results are particularly outstanding.
“The Machine” hints at Jimi Hendrix in its wah’ed guitar and pounding drums, with its angry lyrical observation that ““The American dream is fading fast, do you feel free [cue bitter laugh from Jones]? Free at last?” Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan (both for the solos) and Jimmy Page (for the song dynamics) are indicative of some of the more discernable influences on Both Sides Of The Track.
And, while Jones’ band is ostensibly a trio, he cleverly uses over-dubs as well as guest appearances from Jimmy Z Zavala on harmonica (“What”) and saxophone (“Enjoy The Ride”) and Teddy Zigzag on the B3 organ (“When You’re Not Around”) to add flavour and texture to the overall sound.
This album makes it clear that Dennis Jones must be an amazing experience in a live setting, particularly in the band’s clever use of dynamics. But this is not meant as a criticism of the CD. With well-constructed songs, smart lyrics, excellent production and ferocious playing, there is a lot to enjoy on Both Sides Of The Track. If you are a fan of modern blues-rock, you’ll definitely want to hear Dennis Jones.

 

 

Fifth album of contemporary blues from LA based power trio featuring 13 tracks of original blues/rock and hard driving soul with a few added guest appearances to add extra colour. This powerhouse performer lists the Kings - BB & Albert plus the Jimmies - Hendrix & Page as major influences. The album opens explosively with the funky Enjoy The Ride featuring a hot guitar solo from Jones and great honking sax from guest Jimmy Z Zavala. The muscular and propulsive rhythm section of Dale Black on bass and Raymond Johnson on drums are a perfect tight fit for Jones’ incendiary playing. It All Depends is a grooving rocker but Better Than Him has a much more considered almost jazzy sound as Jones uses his persuasive powers amusingly to win over the lady he’s pursuing. There are plenty of Hendrix inspired wah-wah guitar licks lighting up Nobody’s Slave and Mr Right is a cool grooving slow blues which features guest Teddy Zigzag on Hammond B3 organ as Jones builds the intensity with his searing guitar. My favourite track and centrepiece of the album is The Machine a heavy grinding but well oiled number which features a loose Experience style bass and drums backing behind Jones’ scathingly political lyrics and a fiery Hendrix style guitar solo which twists and turns excitingly. The amusing shuffle Number Two is one for the dancers with some jazzy guitar licks. The hard rocking Skin And Bone is followed by the slow plaintive ballad When You’re Not Around which is lit up by a fine guitar solo and Zigzag’s B3 Hammond organ. Jimmy Z Zavala adds great blueswailing harp to the acoustic stomper What. Jones and his fine band are equally at home with all the differing styles which keep the listener’s interest. I Can’t Stop is a belting rocker but closer Lonely Joint is a humorous acoustic ditty that also highlights the plight of the homeless. Jones’ expressive vocals, superb guitar playing, excellent and diverse material and fine band make this album stand out and should enhance his reputation.

 

The question has been posed by a few, as to why Dennis is not as widely successful or popular as some other artists are and I believe that the answer is simpler than you might have thought for, rather than play in a manner that is broadly in the same vein as most others or try to carve out a particular niche for himself  Dennis has stopped to take stock of all that which has gone before him and all that which is around him and decided to embrace all and in turn meld together the influences that have meaning and inspiration for him. He then simply decided to play in the manner that pleases and satisfies his musical soul, irrespective of fame and fortune and with that thought in mind Dennis has released his fifth solo album since playing in Zac Harmon’s band.  Dennis as usual is on lead guitar and vocals, is joined by a hefty and substantial rhythm section consisting of Dale Black; bass and Raymond Johnson drums and percussion. All thirteen numbers here are original Dennis compositions and “Enjoy The Ride”, is the explosive starter with a mixture of strutting funky shuffling guitar interlaced with an almost shrieking but, most certainly honking saxophone courtesy of Jimmy ‘Z’ Zavala, as the momentum of the number rolls along Dennis entices you in even further with some very fine, deft and lyrical guitarwork. On, “Better Than Him”, there is a loose limbed swinging feel that features a splendidly mellow curling riff that hooks you right in to the groove. “Nobody’s Slave”, highlights the concerns of domestic violence and is given the unleashed power of hard pounding rock to fully emphasise this never ending problem. Poor partner choices are focused upon with “Mr Right”, and Dennis plays an enticing mid paced blues guitar that features rich and creamy guitar work that surges and urges everyone on. To emphasise his range, skill and power Dennis evokes the spirit of Hendrix with the heavy rolling and grinding “The Machine”, his guitar twists, turns, and burns with high energy on the subject of people as minions of the political and corporate world. He follows with “Number Two”, a light and intricate footapping, straight ahead shuffle, which simply lifts your spirits and your feet to the floor. “Skin and Bone “, is simply a satisfying mixture of Hendrix and hard rock.

Dennis certainly stands out in a crowd and it ain’t a bad thing either!

Recommended 

Brian Harman.

Brian Harman - Blues In The South (UK) Review (May 8, 2016)

Blue Rock Records artist: Dennis Jones - Both Sides Of The Track - New Release Review

I just received the newest release, Both Sides Of The Track, by Dennis Jones and it really is heavy! Opening with upbeat rocker, Enjoy The Ride, Jones, on lead vocal and guitar is joined by Dale Black on bass and Raymond Johnson on drums. Jimmy Z Zavala cuts loose with a ripping hot sax solo on this track leading up to Jones' guitar solo, giving it extra bite. Very cool opener! It All Depends has a very warm guitar sound and a lumbering swagger with solid bass work from Black. Jones' on guitar work has a really nice kick and his tone is round and pure. Very nice! Cranked back a few notches, Better Than Him, has an easy, jazzy feel with arpegiated guitar riffs and plucky bass lines. Nobody's Slave features Michael Turner on drums and Samuel Correa on bass. Their aggressive style seem to drive Jones to a different depth of rock. Blues screamer, Mr. Right, really sits in the groove with wide open roads for Jones to thrown super riff and another. Very cool! The Machine has a real modern Hendrix feel with "the sound". Black and Johnson have the feel perfect and Jones' vocals and guitar work are clean and classic. This doesn't sound like someone playing Jimi Hendrix. It sounds like something The Experience would have played. Excellent! Shuffle track, Number Two, is light and springy with cool, jazz rock guitar riffs and solid vocals. Skin and Bones has an almost "Watchtower" feel with a powerful bottom and a Spanish style guitar bridge. Very cool! When You're Not Around is a bluesy ballad with nice vocals, rich guitar work and warm B3 work from Teddy Zigzag. Sweet! What has a light acoustic feel with a nice blend of vocal, acoustic guitar and harp.Shines On You has a real cool feel with a lazy swing and real nice guitar work over a nicely worked bass line. Very cool! I Can't Stop breaks loose with a serious rock feel. With a light funky infusion, this track has a radio style melody and Johnson plays some of his hottest drum riffs. Jones really lights it up on guitar laying down some serious smoke! Wrapping the release is Lonely Joint, an easy going acoustic track on acoustic guitar with vocal. A clever little track and a little fun as a closer.

Dennis Jones has provided a quality blues album with "Both Sides of the Track," which does indeed, move from the heavy side to the smoother, more traditional side of the genre.

With the heavier material on the album, like the opening "Enjoy the Ride,"  "It All Depends " "The Machine," "Nobody's Slave," and "I Can't Stop," Jones is strongly reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix vocally, and that is never a bad thing. "Enjoy the Ride" also has a searing sax solo by Jimmy Z Zavala  to liven it up even more.  On "The Machine," the musicians all give the song an Experience-type vocal too. Prepare to have your mind blown. "Nobody's Slave, " with its ripping guitar solos, has that same highly effective sing-song rhyme pattern that Hendrix took from the early blues masters and has passed along to Jones and others.

The other side of the track comes in with "Better Than Him," a much more traditional blues that shows that Jones can easily handle this style, too. "Mr Right" is more traditional blues, too, even though it still offers that screaming guitar Jones does so very well. "Number Two" is a lighter, jazzy shuffle. "Skin and Bone" is a darker rock ballad while "When You're Not Around" is a yearning contemporary blues ballad greatly enhanced by the Hammond B3 work by Teddy ZigZag.

To me, "What" is mostly notable for the awesome harp work punctuating the vocals. "Shines on You" is a contemporary blues-rock number, a style that suits Jones extremely well, as they all appear to do.

The album has been fairly serious all the way through, and then you come to the end and "Lonely Joint," which is narrated by a joint that fell out of someone's pocket. It's light and fun and provides a cute ending for this versatile album that you will enjoy on any side of any track.

Highly recommended!

Both Sides Of The Track

Blue Rock Records

Dennis Jones guitar work is as slick smooth as a hot knife passing through butter.  This cat is soulful and, from a technical standpoint, right on the money...plus he stays true to blues tradition, all the while showing that he's got what it takes to compete against anyone out there.  From a blues/rock standpoint he shows himself on an equal with even the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  From straight-ahead blues to blues rock and an incredibly soulful R&B, Jones covers all his bases and stays true to honest blues the whole time.  Where so many are diving into blues/rock head first, losing sight of anything that resembles blues from the start, Jones stays true to his blues roots and the blues/rock is a tool that helps to capture a younger audience and bring it into the 21st century.  A superb songwriter and great storyteller, Jones plays what he knows and lives...and enjoys every minute of it, a fact that is evident in every note.  With the backing of Dale Black on bass, Raymond Johnson on drums, Jimmy Z Zavala on sax & harmonica and Teddy Zigzag on B-3, the band moves along as smoothly as a well-oiled machine.  They get an assist from Michael Turner on drums & Samuel Correa on bass on cut #4, "Nobody's Slave."  Dennis and the band dive into this album, giving it 100%, tackling even controversial issues that are relevant to the day and are every bit as likely to hit their audience with humor.  This is a diverse, well-rounded album with a bit of something for everyone, from hard-driving blues/rock to slow burning numbers that are hot enough to set off the smoke detectors.  Jones has five albums and a DVD under his belt, won the IBC in 2004, as part of Zac Harmon's band, has been a presenter at the Blues Music Awards in 2012, has toured Europe several times and more.  Bottom line, Dennis Jones is a well-rounded, well seasoned performer who, even when he is playing blues/rock, remembers the blues part of the equation.  If you are a fan of contemporary blues, you will not want to let Both Sides Of The Track slip through your fingers.  If your taste runs more toward the traditional style, there is ample material here for you as well.  This one is a keeper. - Bill Wilson

It’s a mystery to me why Dennis Jones isn’t more acclaimed than he is.  Since 2003, the L.A.-based blues rocker has released one powerhouse album after another, each loaded to the brim with stunning guitar work (he counts the Kings, Hendrix, and Page as influences…..an impressive line-up), profound songwriting, and propulsive rhythm section backing that’s second-to-none (Dale Black – bass, Raymond Johnson – drums). Through the years, he has served as an opening act for the likes of Buddy Guy, Johnny Winter, John Mayall, and Dick Dale, but Both Sides of the Track, Jones’ fifth recording for Blue Rock Records, should propel him to the headliner list if there’s any justice in the world.  Jones wrote all thirteen tracks and produced the disc himself.  He has guitar chops to burn, but it never seems like he beats you over the head with solo after solo….in part because of the creative way he mixes blues with rock, funk, and soul.  His solos are always crisp, concise, and they cut like a knife.I was going to list standout tunes, but they’re all standouts.  The dazzling opener, “Enjoy The Ride,” is a fun ride that adds Jimmy “Z” Zavala’s saxophone to the mix.  Jones states his case as the better man on the amusing “Better Than Him,” and channels Hendrix on the topical “The Machine,” discusses relationship issues on “You’re Nobody’s Slave,” and racial issues on “Skin and Bone.”  “What” is another entertaining tune, a toe tapper with acoustic guitar, Jimmy Z’s harmonica and a creative rhythm. “Mr. Right” is a splendid slow blues with some fierce string-bending from Jones, and so is “When You’re Not Around,” but the latter has more of a modernized urban touch.  “Number Two” is a sharp rocking shuffle, and “I Can’t Stop” is a rip-roaring rocker as well.  I can pretty much guarantee that you’ve never heard anything like the closer, “Lonely Joint.” This unique tune is an acoustic tune told from the subject’s perspective.Dennis Jones has all the qualities that blues fans look for in their favorite artists…..he’s a killer guitarist and vocalist with a knack for writing memorable songs, and he’s backed by a powerhouse band.  With any luck at all, Both Sides of the Track should open a few eyes and ears to his talents.

DENNIS JONES

BOTH SIDES OF THE TRACK

BLUE ROCK RECORDS

ENJOY THE RIDE–IT ALL DEPENDS–BETTER THAN HIM–NOBODY’S SLAVE–MR. RIGHT–THE MACHINE–NUMBER TWO–SKIN AND BONE–WHEN YOU’RE NOT AROUND–WHAT–SHINES ON YOU–I CAN’T STOP–LONELY JOINT

We’ve been fans of Dennis Jones since his days of playing with Zac Harmon, when they won the 2004 IBC’s.  He’s a first-rate guitarist and vocalist with a raw, cutting-edge, take-no-prisoners sound, and, he’s not afraid to tackle tough societal topics in his writing.

That’s the basis for his fifth album, “Both Sides Of The Track.”  It’s thirteen cuts that mix hard-rocking blues with touches of funk, soul, and R & B guaranteed to please.  Joining Dennis on this set are the rock-solid rhythm section of Dale Black on bass and Raymond Johnson on drums.

Dennis and his hi-octane guitar get their collective swagger on as he tells a potential lover that “you wanted a tree, but you got a limb,” and “I can love you Better Than Him.”  Another lover is “my favorite drug,” and “I Can’t Stop making love to you!”

Dennis also adds a couple of clever twists on this record in the form of two sweet acoustic numbers.  First up is the fun rhyme pattern of “What,” with harp from Jimmy “Z” Zavala, which gives this one a good ole Sonny and Brownie feel.  Then there’s the set-closer.  It’s written from the perspective of a “Lonely Joint,” a rolled spliff that falls out of Dennis’ pocket, and whose sole purpose is “dying to get you high!”

Dennis has been based in Los Angeles for some time now, and several of his songs are quite topical, containing powerful, socially-charged lyrics, and these served as our favorites.  Check out “Skin And Bone,” which begs the question, “do you see race or just see a face?”  You can feel the snarl in Dennis’ guitar lines as he encourages those who are in abusive or dead-end relationships to strike back, because “you’re Nobody’s Slave.”  And, a true crowd-pleaser at his live shows is aimed at “The Machine,’ as Dennis unloads a clip point-blank into Big Brother and the government as a whole, which seemingly is only interested in our money.

Dennis Jones starts off “Both Sides Of The Track” with sound advice for us all—“life is short–Enjoy The Ride” and we’d like to say “Thanks, DJ, for a fine set of blues!”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

I've listened to the entire CD now, many times over. I am very impressed. hear Hendrix and Stevie Ray in many of the tracks. I love the jazzy funk feel of the first track "Enjoy the Ride". Highly recommend the entire CD, not a bad track on it. Congrats Mr. Jones, you hit this one out of the park."

 DENNIS JONES/Both Sides of the Track: Bringing that certain kind of soul that can only come from musos on the black side of the electric blues ledger, Jones jumps right in and tears it up from jump. A ready made shredder hero, Jones knows what Muddy knew and knows how to serve it up hot and heady. A certified bad boy throughout, even the deaf will get off on this def outing. This is a total, high octane thrill ride throughout loaded with heat.

DENNIS JONES . - "Both Sides Of The Track".

 

Label: Blue Rock Records.

 

Dennis Jones - Lead Vocals, Guitar.

Dale Black - Bass Guitar.

Raymond Johnson - Drums.


Guests..........

Jimmy Z Zavala - Saxophone, Harmonica.

Teddy Zigzag - Hammond B3 Organ.

Michael Turner - Drums.

Samuel Correa - Bass, on Nobody's Slave.


*** Track 1. - "Enjoy The Ride". Written by Dennis Jones.

West Coast LA Blues at it's finest with Jones and his band laying down a funky Blues riff and Zavala wringing the neck of his sax and boy it sounds good. Jones's guitar is rich and personable and a great indicator of what is to come. Well written and constructed Blues.


*** Track 2. - "It All Depends". Written by Dennis Jones.

Jones combines his Blues with Rock on this one and blurs the lines between them and at times launches into a Hendricks inspired solo. The richly toned baritone voice of Jones is silky but has the necessary grunt to get his point across.


*** Track 3. - "Better Than Him". Written by Denis Jones.

Drawing on some swing Jones can spread his wings vocally as his subdued guitar is expressive. Throughout the band are stellar providing the rhythm for this swing laden Blues.  Jones's guitar almost asks questions of you as it expresses just what he wants to say when it comes to who loves you the most. Wonderful expressive and impressive offering.


*** Track 4. - "Nobody's Slave". Written by Dennis Jones.

Scorching Rockin' Blues that enables Jones to roughen the edges for great effect on this rather edgy offering. Jones lets his guitar do his talking and talk he does as he runs from riff to riff as he channels his guitar legends to great effect. There is no doubting his immense ability when he makes his guitar sing, thankfully he has a band that can recognise that and also shine in their own right.


*** Track 5. - "Mr. Right". Written by Dennis Jones.

Slowing it down does not diminish the awe inspiring guitar work of Jones as he lays his soul bare over the top of his incredible band ably assisted on Hammond B3 from Zigzag. Quite an epic feel about this one and one that will burn into one's soul as you digest all that is on offer. The music world has suffered from a lack of epic's over many a year now but maybe just maybe we have one here.


*** Track 6. - "The Machine". Written by Dennis Jones.

Solid drums and Jones's trademark searing guitar create the feel on this one and if l am not mistaken, (l am on many an occasion), there appears to be a bow used on the bass. This maybe something created to smear egg all over the face of people like me. Very moody and pointed in it's opinion of life in the US of A at present. I suppose that is up to the listener too. Again Jones channels all of his guitar heroes both living and passed and provides a feast for guitar fans. Certainly not a track to toy with.


*** Track 7. - "Number Two". Written By Dennis Jones.

Boppin' boogie laden beat that is Jones in a playful mood and why wouldn't you with a groove like this. Certainly a wonderful play of wit from Jones in the writing on this one. Yeah l get it and man this guy's writing is great, all you have to do is listen and yeah you will get it too.


*** Track 8. - "Skin And Bone".  Written by Dennis Jones.

A social commentary that is pertinent and cutting at the same time. It certainly is time that we should all get together and realise that we are all the same and made of skin and bones. 


*** Track 9. - "When You're Not Around". Written by Dennis Jones.

Jones lets down his guard of being a tough edged Blues/Rock man with this stunning ballad. Lowering the tempo and intensity does not diminish the potency of a Jones performance. His guitar subtly tells his tale as the band provide a lustrous bed ably assisted by Zigzag on Hammond B3. A  beautiful ballad that feels and sounds oh so good.


*** Track 10. - "What". Written by Dennis Jones.

Jones goes acoustic with this one and it sounds mighty fine as Johnson's harmonica is pure and full bodied. The idea to go acoustic on this one is pure genius and it works so very well. Jones's voice takes on a different sound and feel on this one that displays a warmth that emphasises his rich baritone voice.


*** Track 11. - "Shines On You". Written by Dennis Jones.

Straight ahead electric Blues that takes no prisoner is certainly Jones's forte and this track displays him at his best. Pushing boundary's and perceptions of just what Blues is. He is uncompromising and l think that is his forte and it works perfectly well for him. If you can't bring it, don't try it!


*** Track 12. - "I Can't Stop". Written by Dennis Jones.

Jones again looks at life and what can go wrong when you move too damn fast. Solid workout that is embellished by some wonderful harmony singing juxtaposed by some incredible incendiary guitar from Jones. 


*** Track 13. - "Lonely Joint". Written by Dennis Jones.

This certainly is a witty pointed look at society today and how it looks at the poor and disadvantaged. Only Jones would look at society as a joint that is discarded and unwanted. Maybe we should all just try a little more and be more human!


This is one powerful album and Dennis Jones has certainly honed his trade well with the sheer power and passion as not only a singer and guitarist but also a songwriter. His writing is incredibly aware of what is happening around him and he is not afraid to point the finger exactly where it needs to be.  Jones possesses a lustrous baritone voice that can be as raucous as he can be to as gentle as he needs to be, wonderfully his writing promotes that ability. As a guitarist he is a stellar player who has obviously played many a gig and studied his heroes and rather than merely parroting them he has melded it all together into his very own style. Love his band, certainly a tight outfit that know where they are going and how they are going to bring out the best in not only Jones but themselves. I highly recommend this album for anybody that loves and appreciates guitar Blues done magnificently and if you are unsure you will love it also.      

Peter Merrett - PBS 106.7 Melbourne Australia (Feb 1, 2016)

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