The Bottom Line
- Gary's new originals are fairly solid.
- Bonds is backed by a great band.
- A number of superstar cameos.
- Gary's voice is not what it used to be.
- No attempt to replicate his classic "sound."
- As a blues-rock album, it's rather generic.
- Gary U.S. Bonds
- Studio Album
Guide Review - Gary U.S. Bonds: Back in 20
Well, yes and no. Gary simply isn't what he used to be, or rather, his voice isn't - it's dropped in register and lost a good bit of its potency since his glory days. You might not even know this was Bonds without the CD case. And unlike the Eighties sides, these dozen songs don't really attempt to recreate the sound of his glory days. "Back In 20" really only works as a generic collection of blues and soul-based rock.
That said, it's not bad. Bonds covers Otis' "Dreams To Remember," Buster Brown's "Fannie Mae," Keb Mos She Just Wants To Dance, and Delbert's near-hit "Every Time I Roll The Dice," but the rest are originals co-written by Bonds himself. The startling he-said she-said duet with Snow, "Bitch/Dumb Ass," is a standout, as is "Murder And The First Degree" and "Don't Do It Here." The bands tight, too, complete with a big, ballsy brass section. If you've always wanted to hear Bonds reinvent himself as a modern urban bluesman, this new CD will offer some limited thrills. But school, sadly, is not back in.