Flipside Reviews – Side B :: Danko Jones – Rock and Roll Is Black and Blue

Danko Jones and I go wayyyy back, it was back in 1999 when My Love is Bold was released and this Blues-Rock trio from Toronto hit the stage at the Marquee Club and proceeded to melt my face off. I’m not sure what it was, the combination of cocky front man who owned the stage, the no holds barred cock rock, the 8.00 ticket or a combination of all three, but it was a powerful bit of showmanship in that 70 or 80 minutes that sealed the deal. I’ve since seen Danko twice more, once at the marquee and once at the Metro Centre opening for G’N’R at a point where my interest was waning (and that was in support of 2010’s Below The Belt).

Rock and Roll is Black and Blue (RRBB) is the band’s sixth full length album, and it is a return of form for the trio after the more mainstream pair of 2008’s Never Too Loud and 2010’s somewhat mainstream Below The Belt. RRBB eschews some of the poppier elements that were creeping into the band’s sound for a return to a thicker heavier sound. The thing about Danko Jones is that the music is not complicated, it’s a three piece unit that consists of a Lead Guitarist (Jones), Bassist (John “JC” Calabrese) and Drummer (currently Atom Willard) that manages to channel a full force hard rock sound into a face melting sound that will leave you sweaty and panting for more. It’s a musical cheeseburger, it’s not healthy if it’s the only thing your diet consists of, but once in a while it tastes pretty fucking good.

Some may use a track such as “Legs” as an example of low brow lyrical content see “Legs legs – the longer they get….The more stupid I’m in the end”, but sure it’s not rocket science, but bands such as ZZ Top have been writing equally cheesy lyrics “She’s got legs, she knows how to use them. She never begs, she knows how to choose them.” and are a beloved southern fried classic rock band. Hard rock has never been just about lyrical content, it has been, is and will always be about the energy and getting the crowd amped up. For that, I present the lead single “It’s a Beautiful Day” which is a great tune to crank up and kick your day off with, it’s not complicated, it’s catchy and hard driving and should be embraced by modern rock radio very soon.

RRBB is the first album that I felt really brought my Danko Jones love full circle in the way that this album is the first that truly captured what I saw on stage back before Y2K, it was in your face, sweaty, impassioned rock n roll. It wasn’t complicated, it was about chicks, sex and not much else (see “I believe in God”). Danko Jones was being themselves up on stage in 1999 and most of their albums seemed veer away from that energy to strive for commercial radio success under the guidance of their trusty record label. It took them 13 years to figure out how to harness that energy and translate it into an aural barrage that stands a very real possibility of melting your face off. This is as close as you can get to the live Danko Jones experience without sweating it out in the crowd.

About the author


A proud and over-caffeinated husband, father, runner and writer. I've written for the local weekly The Coast for over a decade and have since taken to creating and writing for HAFILAX for even longer. I hope you enjoy the musings of a guy who has loved music for the better part of 4 decades, and has an album of concert tickets to show for it.