Wednesday, 28 May 2014

the blues ain't finished yet

Somethings seem to never change.. and thank the lord of blues it's the sound of John Mayall's voice. The man has recently turned 80 years old and few artists will ever come close to maintaining the strength of their voice as Mayall's instantly recognisable vocals have done. Never mind the shear body of work Mayall has produced since the early 60's days of gigging around the UK in a van, listening to his new album 'A Special Life' dissolves those decades as if they never existed.
Ever since his early albums, Mayall has never shied away from writing lyrics that not only reflect his life experiences but also making a personal comment on the times he lives in. Not for him does he churn out a history of blues cliches, his mission has always been blues as truth and his latest outpouring is right on the money. Just hear how simply he sums up the whole stupid mess of a world today in "World Gone Crazy". Then in "Just A Memory" how wonderfully and sensitively he sings a lament to a love lost in times long gone. It's achingly tender delivery reaches some breathtaking notes.
The band is as rock solid and expressive as ever he's had. But then Mayall's always searched out the best players and drilled them with precision without losing any of the feel of the blues. His harmonica playing is as ever from the top draw of harp playing and there's a fantastic example again in "World Gone Crazy".
Even the cover of the new album has a picture of one of his hand decorated guitars he's always been famous for, and who can forget that one on the front of Diary Of A Band (above)
Today, blues is not trendy or even popular with a UK audience, save for perhaps Seasick Steve turning out at festivals, but if it hadn't been for John Mayall and his blues mission some 5 decades ago and how it shaped the way rock music was going to be heard there would have been countless bands lost to exploring what?.. Pop?
John Mayall's 'Special Life' life does indeed need celebrating.
Here's a playlist of 4 tracks from the album. They'll play consecutively. Press 'Play It All'
World Gone Crazy
Just A Memory (A Special Life)
Like A Fool
Speak Of The Devil