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John Mayall - Nobody Told Me - CD -

Price per Unit (stuk): €16.95

John Mayall, ‘The Godfather of British Blues,’ is back with his newest album, Nobody Told Me. It will be released on February 22 by Forty Below Records. Co-produced by Mayall and Forty Below founder Eric Corne, it gives us Mayall in top form (at the age of 85) on vocals, guitar, keyboards and harmonica. The legendary bluesman is accompanied by an impressive list of guest guitarists, including Joe Bonamassa, Alex Lifeson, Todd Rundgren, Carolyn Wonderland, Larry McCray and Steven Van Zandt, and the results are nothing short of spectacular.

The Order of the British Empire medal-winner and Blues Hall of Fame inductee is also joined by his regular rhythm section of Chicago bluesmen, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums. Billy Watts plays rhythm guitar and the horn section from the Late Night with Conan O’Brien house band added the brass.

Track one on Nobody Told Me, “What Have I Done Wrong?” features guitar titan Joe Bonamassa. Since he’s no stranger to working with great horn ensembles in his own music, his sophisticated, yet biting fret work sounds right at home with the timely punches of the brass section. Mayall’s vocals, powerful and smooth with just a touch of a bluesman’s rasp, are delivered effortlessly on point.

Bonamassa also appears on track six, the slow-driving “Delta Hurricane.” His relentless attack is indeed a hurricane of well-placed notes, working well against Mayall’s tastefully understated keyboard soloing. Once again, the horns punch things up right through to the final notes.

Blues guitar shredder Larry McCray makes two blistering contributions to this album. “The Moon is Full” is an upbeat funk/blues nugget. Propelled by Rzab’s pulsating bass lines and Davenport’s staccato snare cracks, McCray uses all the available space in the intro, between verses and in the solo break to fill our ears with stinging string work. Mayall deftly dirties up his keyboard solo to match McCray’s grittiness. On the late Gary Moore’s “The Hurt Inside,” McCray’s aggressive playing is wholly appropriate, while the vulnerability of Mayall’s vocals capture the sentiment of Moore’s lyrics.

The current lead guitarist for John Mayall’s band, Carolyn Wonderland appears on three tracks which, taken together, show off her virtuoso blues guitar chops. On “Distant Lonesome Train,” the Houston native/Austin transplant speaks fluent slide guitar. Later, she makes her guitar chirp brightly and phrases exquisitely on the stop and go shuffle “Like It Like You Do.” Last, Wonderland applies the lightest of touches on “Nobody Told Me,” complimenting Mayall’s melancholy piano and vocals.

The most welcome surprises on Nobody Told Me are guests Alex Lifeson of Rush, Todd Rundgren and “Little Steven” Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, each of whom turns in a very worthy blues guitar appearance.

Lifeson, who is known as a prog rock pioneer, shows up on The Jeff Healy Band’s “Evil And Here To Stay.” He lays back during the front half, allowing Mayall to carry things on keyboards and harmonica; during his solo and through the ending, his rock chops yield to his admirable blues chops. What does come through of his characteristic playing is his muscularity and the way he tends to make his notes sing out.

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