John Mayall review…September 2, 2015…

JOHN MAYALL

FIND A WAY TO CARE

FORTY BELOW RECORDS   FBR 011

MOTHER-IN-LAW BLUES–THE RIVER’S INVITATION–AIN’T NO GUARANTEES–I FEEL SO BAD–FIND A WAY TO CARE–LONG DISTANCE CALL–I WANT ALL MY MONEY BACK–ROPES AND CHAINS–LONG SUMMER DAYS–DRIFTING BLUES–WAR WE WAGE–CRAZY LADY

It has been a banner year for British blues legend John Mayall so far in 2015.  In April, a long-lost set emerged that was taped by a fan at various British clubs and was released as “John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers–Live In 1967 (Never-Before-Heard Live Performances), which had John fronting a band with future members of an as-yet-to-be-formed Fleetwood Mac!  Now, John has released his latest band project for Forty Below Records, “Find A Way To Care.”  John is on vocals, keys, and harp, with Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass, and Jay Davenport on drums.  The twelve cuts herein are a mix of blues classics and band originals that showcase the vast talents of the man dubbed as “The Godfather Of British Blues.”  He keeps the listeners guessing throughout, also, with clever arrangements and use of a horn section on several cuts, too.

John kicks off with a sweet harp intro to a rockin’ “Mother-In-Law Blues.  One of his originals is sage advice to us all—when your lover “ran out the back door,” you know “there Ain’t No Guarantees with love.”  This one features a fine extended keyboard solo, as well.  “I Feel So Bad,” written by Lightnin’ Hopkins and brought to mainstream popularity by the Presley version, is presented here in a Ray Charles style, with the punchy horns and John’s electric piano doin’ the testifyin’!

The title cut has a smooth NOLA vibe, as John urges us all to strive to make a positive difference and “Find A Way To Care.”  Vintage Muddy and Charles Brown songs are given sparse arrangements that recall the glory days of Chess, “Long Distance Call,” and “Drifting Blues,” respectively.

We had two favorites, too, and they also close the set in very different ways.  First up is the minor-key ode to “The War We Wage,” which is one that surely “nobody can win.”  The final cut is only John’s vocal and his acoustic piano, recalling Henry Roeland Byrd, the ole Professor Longhair, with the lively tale of a sho’ nuff “Crazy Lady, my old girlfriend.”

John Mayall continues to add to his vast legacy as one of the pioneers of the blues-rock movement.  Various shades of blues are the norm for “Find A Way To Care.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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