With a spot already reserved on our best album of the year list, Take One, by Ohio Rock and Rollers Black Coffee is a musical force to be reckoned with. Sure, Greta Van Fleet is getting a lot of hype for sounding like, perhaps too much like, Led Zeppelin, but save some room on the saviors of Rock and Roll medal stand for lead singer Ehab Omran, guitar player Justin Young and drummer Tommy McCullough of Black Coffee.
Every song on this record is good, some bordering on great. “I Barely Know Her” could have been a Montrose “Bad Motor Scooter” era hit, “Hurricane” is a fast rocking uptempo driving tune that could have been an outtake on Appetite For Destruction, and the highly excellent “Born to Lie” sets your hair on fire with Bon Scott era AC/DC fury. Even when they go down low and slow like they do on the epic “Traveller” they wear the Zeppelin jacket patch but never stray too far from their own Black Coffee vibe.
These guys even put on their best Black Sabbath shroud channelling their inner Ozzy Osbourne on “Psychedelic Red,” one of the most fun tracks on the record. Listen closely and you will be able to here the faint hint of a cowbell on “Fade,” and on the mostly instrumental closer “Away” there is even a whiff of the band Boston in the air. The guitar solo on this one is worth the price of admission alone.
Now, forget everything you just read, especially the part where comparisons are made to Rock and Roll bands from the 70’s. These guys are their own dudes, with a sound and spirit, that is supremely unique. A cap is certainly tipped in the direction of the past, and the influences on this record are present and accounted for on most of the tunes. But, taken as a whole and digested in it’s entirety in one sitting, the verdict is in. Black Coffee might not be the Ghosts of Rock and Roll past, or even the Saviors of the genre and the torch bearers of the future. What they are is one hell of a compelling Rock and Roll band and exactly what we need right now in 2018.