John Mayall: Tough (Eagle)

 |   |  <1 min read

John Mayall: How Far Down
John Mayall: Tough (Eagle)

Given this seminal blueman's low profile in the marketplace this past decade or two, it can only be his impending New Zealand tour which has seen the Antipodean release of this, his 57th, album. Yes, 57 -- and that doesn't count compilations.

You'd expect by now that John Mayall might have run out of things to say, but not at all. Here he addresses the economic downturn (Tough Times Ahead), his alcoholism (Slow Train to Nowhere), his dislike of hip-hop (That Good Old Rocking Blues) . . . 

Always an astute picker of guitar players (his scouting didn't stop with Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor in the Sixties), here he has the hard and seasoned Texas player Rocky Athas who brings some sting and venom.

But it is in the slower and more coiled material (How Far Down) and the fiery jazzy An Eye for an Eye where this album really shines.

No one has any right to expect a great album from Mayall at this point in his career (he's 76), and to be fair this isn't a great album. But it is far from a workmanlike offering and when it fires on all cylinders you can understand why Mayall -- live at least -- still commands a loyal following.

(For a truly great Mayall album check Blues From Laurel Canyon, an Essential Elsewhere album) 

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Blues articles index

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me in Bluesland (Alligator/Southbound)

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me in Bluesland (Alligator/Southbound)

Here's one literally pulled from the vaults, a decade after the death of pianist Johnnie Johnson who was there for all those classic, early Chuck Berry sides. In the Eighties and Nineties,... > Read more

Jeff Healey: Heal My Soul (Warners)

Jeff Healey: Heal My Soul (Warners)

Blind blues guitarist Healey – who died in 2008 – would have been 50 this year and these previously unreleased songs confirm he was in a class of his own (Mark Knopfler, George... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

MIKE SKINNER/THE STREETS INTERVIEWED (2004): The sound of the tenements

MIKE SKINNER/THE STREETS INTERVIEWED (2004): The sound of the tenements

This is called an irony: on The Streets' new album A Grand Don't Come For Free the mouth behind the street-smart monologues, Mike Skinner, bangs on about how his cellphone keeps cutting out.... > Read more

Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe (Ninja Tunes)

Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe (Ninja Tunes)

It has been more than a decade since the previous Cinematic Orchestra album Ma Fleur and the landscape for lush, soulful, romantic and sometimes quasi-ambient music has changed. Not the least... > Read more