CD Review: John Mayall ~ A Special Life

John MJohn Mayall
A Special Life
Forty Below Records

With five decades of recording and performing under John Mayall’s belt I expected a classy album, and that is just what was delivered. This is due to the Godfather of the blues delivering what he does best the blues and surrounding himself with quality musicians so that the sound produced is clear sky blue. The musicians on the album are Rocky Athas, guitar; Greg Rzab, Bass and Jay Davenport on drums in addition to his current band we have accordion and another vocalist thanks to C.J. Chenier on a few tracks.

Opening with Why Did You Go Last Night is certainly a track to get you into the vibe and listening with the son of the writer of the track, CJ Chenier’s accordion that augments the song perfectly.

We hear John play his own style of piano, harp and guitar with strong vocals and a message to deliver on his own track World Gone Crazy, with his message placing intolerant religious beliefs as the driver for wars, unusual subject given the blues treatment and is certainly strikes a chord with the reality we are living in at the moment.

Throughout the album it is the band that whilst being stripped back from the days of the Bluesbreakers works very well and there is a freedom that can be achieved with fewer musicians it is a case of less is more.
The covers are all classics that fit into the essence of A Special Life, whether Albert King’s Flooding In California or a track from his old band mate with Speak Of The Devil a Sonny Landreth number, he rejuvenates Jimmy Rogers’ That’s All Right; and Big Town Playboy by Eddie Taylor is a stand out track whilst Jimmy McCracklin’s I Just Got To Know is given Mayall’s treatment in his new stripped down approach and it certainly works there is no doubt these are musicians being led by a performer who just loves playing with the blues as he infuses a drop of his own magic to the mix. John Mayall may never shock or alarm with the enjoyable balanced mix of covers and his own works he does instil into his brand of Chicago blues model a twist of jazz as seen on Heartache with its chilled tempo and a blending of British blues revival of the 1960’s.

This is an accomplished album superbly produced by Eric Corne making every moment count and there is a grittiness of A Special Life and this certainly makes you want to get re-acquainted with the five decades of quality music John Mayall has been producing since his first single in 1964.This is a celebration of a special life and we will return to enjoy the album regularly, as there is always something else to hear in the musical embellishments every time you return. This is A Special Life that will stand the test of time.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD TEN doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

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