John Mayall is one of the finest living ambassadors to the blues. His bands have been proving grounds for countless musicians, many of whom he’s outlived – and yet, he’s showing no sign of slowing down. He’s played a slew of recent live dates, and his latest studio album, 2017’s Talk About That, is one of the finest of his career.
But, never one to stay in one place too long, Mayall threw everyone a curveball when he went out on the road without a guitarist, allowing Mayall, his bassist and drummer, plenty of space to make music, and turning the spotlight on his harmonica and piano playing skills. Three For the Road is a live document of that unique tour, and it’s out from Forty Below Records.
Mayall talks about the challenges and freedoms that come from just playing in a trio, plus he reveals what’s on the horizon for him – a new album with an all-star lineup of guitarists.
Luther Russell may not be a household name, but he’s managed to put together an impressive body of work over the last 30 years. He played in a pre-Wallflowers band with Jakob Dylan called The Bootheels; got signed to a major label in the 1990’s with the roots-rock outfit, The Freewheelers; worked with former Black Crowes’ guitarist Marc Ford in Federale, and is currently in a band with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens called Those Pretty Wrongs. He’s also done several solo albums where he’s played all the instruments himself.
The highlights of his multi-faceted career have been cobbled together in Selective Memories: An Anthology, just out from Hanky Panky Records.
Delbert McClinton & Self-Made Men – Prick of the Litter (Hot Shot/Thirty Tigers)
How many artists in their 70’s are still consistently releasing music? Of those, how many are putting out albums that rank as some of the finest of their career? There is absolutely only one – Delbert McClinton.
Rock, blues, country – he’s done it all, and has the awards to prove it. Yet, McClinton’s latest project is a nod to the pre-rock music of his youth. Prick of the Litter finds the 76-year old survivor exploring the classic song structures of folks like Johnny Mercer. But, instead of covering old material, he’s written new compositions that emulate that great music. Don’t worry, there’s still several rockers here too. Continue reading Our Favorite Album of 2017→
Brian Wilson – Playback – The Brian Wilson Anthology (Rhino)
The guiding force behind the 1960’s Beach Boys, Brian Wilson helped create some of the greatest American rock n’ roll ever recorded. Yet, by the early 1970’s, a combination of drugs and fractured psyche left him a damaged recluse who famously put a sandbox in his living room. Dr. Eugene Landy’s controversial treatment in the mid 80’s could’ve signaled the end of this great artist. Yet, somehow Wilson has managed to pull things together and issue music which, while not as spectacular as his early Beach Boys, certainly contain moments of brilliance. Continue reading Rarely do artists get a second act quite like Brian Wilson→
Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call 90’s Pop (Universal / Sony) review
Eleven number one hits
The 1990’s were a time of incredible prosperity and technological advances. Record companies were selling unprecedented amounts of CDs and, as a result, artists were still making money from the sale of their recorded music (imagine that, right?). Now That’s What I Call 90’s Pop attempts to sum up the Top 40 side of things with this new collection. Continue reading Back to the decade that spawned Friends, Starbucks and Harry Potter→
Eidolon – The Allan Holdsworth Collection (Manifesto) review
For older music fans, there seems to be only two choices now – subpar new music that is good, but not great, or listen to the same old tired material of the past. Well, now is as good a time as ever to discover someone you may have missed the first time around – guitar virtuoso Allan Holdsworth. Continue reading He was the John Coltrane of the Electric Guitar→
It’s 2018. David Bowie, Prince and Tom Petty are dead. Most popular music is boring, homogenized corporate crap or pretentious, self-absorbed music that is purposely un-technical. So, here comes the Chandler Travis Philharmonic to save the day. Well, probably not. I mean, they’re just one band. But, they’re a pretty damn good band. Despite their moniker, the band has a lot more to do with the sloppy tightness of the Replacements than that community orchestra that you’re aunt that never married has season tickets to. Continue reading Remember when rock n’ roll was fun?→
NRBQ – High Noon: A 50-year Retrospective (Omnivore Recordings) box set review
Odds are, you’ve never heard of NRBQ. So, a five-CD box set probably doesn’t make sense. Yet, in fact, it’s just the opposite – I can’t name a band that better deserves a multi-disc treatment like this. Omnivore Recordings has just issued High Noon: A 50-year Retrospective, the first-ever career-spanning collection of this criminally-ignored band. Continue reading How Does a Band This Good Fly Under the Radar for 50 Years?→
Bobby Darin & Johnny Mercer Two of a Kind (Omnivore Recordings)
In 1961, the teaming of 24-year old rocker Bobby Darin with bandleader/songwriter Johnny Mercer, who was 27 years older, might’ve seemed a bit odd. Yet, if you follow Darin’s career trajectory, it makes perfect sense. A new, deluxe edition of Two of a Kind, has just been issued by Omnivore Recordings. Continue reading An unlikely pairing results in good fun→
Michael Nesmith – Infinite Tuesday – Autobiographical Riffs – The Music (Rhino) review
Michael Nesmith will forever be linked to the Monkees, the 1960’s group that’s been unfairly labeled as a fake band (were the Mamas & Papas any different? But, that’s a debate for another time). Yet, Nesmith continued to grow as an artist and pioneer after the breakup of the band. He championed the country-rock movement, penned hit songs for other people, and became a innovator in the budding video technology of the late Seventies/early Eighties. Infinite Tuesday, a new career retrospective from Rhino Records, takes Nesmith’s long and varied career and distills it into one disc. Continue reading RECAP 2017: He began as a Monkee, but did so much more→