Critic's Choice

The title of Jett Black's latest disc, To Hell and Back, might as well be a direct reference to frontman Jeff Arnold's life over the nine months. The last time we heard from Arnold (aka Jett Black) this past January, he had just watched his club, the Velvet Underground, which occupied the subterranean space at 1624 Market Street (the former home of the Blue Mule and its predecessor, Brendan's Blues Pub), go dark after being open for less than three months. It marked the end of a particularly dour period for Black and his mates that began with the act's drummer, Tony Young -- who handles security for Hizzoner Hick during the work week -- suffering a severe heart attack in the middle of Wyoming during a short tour with King Rat. Young made a full recovery in a matter of weeks, and the group has since undergone a massive overhaul, having mostly ditched the rockabilly-inflected sound that dominated its debut, 2004's What This Record NeedsIs More Cowbell, in favor of jagged, brawny rawk that resembles Velvet Revolver mated with the Reverend Horton Heat. Additionally, Tyfoid Mary's Igor Panasewicz is now handling the low end, while Bart McCrorey wields the lead ax. Catch Jett Black this Friday, August 19, when the reconfigured unit celebrates the release of Hell at Bender's Tavern, with Mo Trucker, Jim Yelenick (Jet Black Joy) and Black Lamb. (The $7 cover includes admission and a copy of the disc.) Black is back -- and don'tcha know, he's glad to be back.


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