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John Mayall: Talk About That

 A l b u m   D e t a i l s

Label: Forty Below Records
Released: 2017.01.27
Category: Blues, Blues Rock
Producer(s): John Mayall, Eric Corne
Media type: CD
Web address: www.johnmayall.com
Appears with:
Purchase date: 2017
Price in €: 1,00

 S o n g s ,   T r a c k s

[1] Talk About That (J.Mayall) - 4:25
[2] It's Hard Going Up (B.Crutcher) - 4:14
[3] The Devil Must Be Laughing (J.Mayall) - 6:57
[4] Gimme Some of That Gumbo (J.Mayall) - 3:56
[5] Goin' Away Baby (J.A.Lane) - 3:50
[6] Cards on the Table (J.Mayall) - 4:16
[7] I Didn't Mean to Hurt You (J.Mayall) - 4:25
[8] Don't Deny Me (J.L.Williams) - 4:29
[9] Blue Midnight (J.Mayall) - 4:02
[10] Across the County Line (J.Mayall/R.Athas/G.Rzab/J.Davenport) - 3:18
[11] You Never Know (J.Mayall) - 3:31

 A r t i s t s ,   P e r s o n n e l

John Mayall - Vocals, Hammond Organ, Piano, Harmonica, Guitar, Design, Artwork
Rocky Athas - Lead / Rhythm Guitar
Greg Rzab - Bass Guitar, Percussion
Jay Davenport - Drums, Percussion

Joe Walsh - Lead Guitar on [3,6]

Ron Dziubla - Tenor & Baritone Saxophones
Mark Pender - Trumpet
Nick Lane - Trombone

Eric Corne - Engineer, Mixing, Mastering, Producer
Shadaharu Yogi - Second Engineer
Mark Chalecki - Mastering
Cristina Arrigoni - Cover Photography, Photography
Terry Bert - Photography
CJ Reagan - Photography

 C o m m e n t s ,   N o t e s

2017 CD Forty Below Records FBR0152

Recorded at House of Blues Studio, Encico, California on 10-11 February 2016.

Now 83, John Mayall has been making records for more than 50 years now and though he’s probably never banged down the door of the younger set and experienced the kind of visibility that has caused his name to be whispered with hushed reverence among those who adore adoring elder statesmen, that’s never stopped him from chasing the next great performance or delivering his goods. He does have a dedicated audience, one that’s eager to celebrate his present and future as much as it’s aware of his past. This 11-song collection finds him in fine form and spirits as he offers up a series of soul-slathered tunes that reveal a lifetime of grit and sweat.

The veteran bluesman gets topical in “The Devil Must Be Laughing”, which features some career-high fret work from Joe Walsh. Taking up matters of political and religious extremism, the lyrics are heartfelt and given a passionate workout across more than six simmering minutes of anger and frustration. If the heat gets to be a bit much after that, Mayall takes us to New Orleans for “Gimme Some of That Gumbo” with a playfulness that few performers could muster. “Goin’ Away Baby”, meanwhile, sounds like it could have been recorded either 70 years ago or within the last few minutes, walking the fine line between tradition and breaking new ground in a manner only Mayall could pull off.

The truth is that he excels at the more stripped-down and traditional approach. The clear-eyed “I Didn’t Mean to Hurt You” relaxes into its groove, allowing the singer to find the melody’s sweet spots and to convey the tune’s emotional truths with an honesty that helps elevate it all above cliché. The jaunty closer “You Never Know” offers more of this and its casual pace easily makes it one of the must-hear tracks from this litter. There are other highlights, of course, including the large ensemble stride of “Don’t Deny Me” and the stark raving fun of “Across the County Line”.

Of less interest is the Clapton-meets-Boz Scaggs “Blue Midnight”. Though it doesn’t sound insincere, it sounds less like Mayall being himself than the better cuts. “Cards on the Table” features more ace playing from Walsh, though the slide playing there overwhelms from the start, creating unnecessary competition between the vocals and the six-string and ultimately derailing an otherwise strong number. Still, hearing Mayall strut proudly on “It’s Hard Going Up”, and the title tune gives us more than enough reason to listen.

The former piece sets its lyrical sites on a familiar music business expression about meeting the same faces on the way down as one does on the way up. It speaks to Mayall’s longevity, too, his role as a musical mentor and reliable post in the blues world, one that’s never soared to unfathomable heights but one that has also managed to remain strong in the game while others struggled. Tenacity and class may be the two things that have kept Mayall strong all these years, and both are in ample supply here.

In the end, Talk About That is proof positive that Mayall maintains his standing in the pantheon of great bluesmen whose sense of soul and purpose is indefatigable. Long may he run.

Rating 7/10

Jedd Beaudoin - 15 February 2017
© 1999-2017 PopMatters.com.

We have Mayall. The undisputed Godfather of British blues releases a brand new studo album, at 83-years-old but with the energy of a guy 30 years younger, and with special guest Joe Walsh popping in to lend a hand on two cuts. Jolly fine it all is too.

For Joe it is an ambition fulfiulled: “It has been a bucket-list item since 1970 to play with John Mayall. Finally got the chance – and he was the complete gentleman and fine, fine musician I had always hoped he would be. When you meet a hero who helped shape your career, it’s a wonderful feeling to find they’re even cooler than you thought they were”.

Yeah, having met and interviewed/photographed John, I can confirm he is a cool dude.  A humble, nice guy and still as passionate about the blues today as he was when he started back in the late 1950s.

John will be over here from his long-time California home, for some trio shows at London’s famous Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on Tuesday 4th, Wednesday 5th & Thursday 6th April 2017.

‘The Devil Must Be Laughing’ and ‘Cards On The Table’ showcase Mr Walsh’ fabulous guitar work and are highlights on this new album. But there’s more. Mr Mayal did not need a VIP to bolster up the offering. No Siree Bob! It’s a lovely piece of work without the Eagle nipping in, but it’s a lovely bonus.

Produced by John Mayall and Forty Below Records’ president Eric Corne (who also engineered and mixed). ‘Talk About That’ was recorded at House Of Blues Studio in Encino, California, and contains 11 tracks: eight originals, plus covers from Memphis soul music songwriter Bettye Crutcher (‘It’s Hard Going Up’), blues great Jimmy Rogers (‘Goin’ Away Baby’) and rock singer/songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams (‘Don’t Deny Me’). John plays keyboards, guitar and harmonica, apart from his lead vocal duties.

The album also boasts a sizzling three-piece horn section that adds extra punch on several tracks, including the infectious New Orleans-flavoured and wonderful ‘Gimme Some Of That Gumbo’.

John and Joe are joined by Rocky Athas on guitars (who has now left John’s band), Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums. It is his first album since  2015’s acclaimed “Find A Way To care.” John has also recently released two volumes of the Bluesbreakers live in 1967 albums.

Simon Redley - January 2017
Copyright © 2017 Music Republic Magazine

In the 1970s, John Mayall, O.B.E., was, along with Bob Dylan, John Prine, David Bromberg, Loudon Wainwright III, Shawn Phillips and Jerry Jeff Walker, one of my musical heroes.  Now at 83 and still touring and recording albums, Mayall is an inspiration.

Mayall, often called the “Godfather of British Blues,” is so much more than just a pioneer of British blues. By introducing a generation of rock fans to the blues, he arguably had a hand in saving blues as a viable music form at a time in the 1960s when elderly bluesmen were looked upon at folk festivals as charming examples of a bygone era.  More than 50 years after cutting his first single, Mayall continues to build on that amazing legacy.

As I have mentioned before, one of the first albums I ever got a was Mayall’s Memories, a peculiar collection of autobiographical songs released in 1971 that is now out of print.  It was a gift.  It wasn’t Mayall’s most acclaimed work, but I liked it enough to start collecting other Mayall albums: The TurningPoint,  Mayall’s magnificent mostly acoustic effort from 1969; and Jazz Blues Fusion, with its sleek horn arrangements.  Eventually, my collection would include the classic Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, known as the “Beano album” because Clapton was reading the comic book in the cover photo; A Hard Road, which featured the guitar work of original Fleetwood Mac leader Peter Green; and Crusade and Blues From Laurel Canyon, which featured Mick Taylor who went on to join the Rolling Stones.  But more importantly, I liked the style of music, which led me to seek out original blues artists like B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf; and then Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mississippi John Hurt, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Little Walter, John Lee Hooker and Willie Dixon; then the next generation of Buddy Guy, James Cotton and Taj Mahal.  Many other blues enthusiasts followed a similar path.

Almost every biography of Mayall includes the litany of rock stars who played with him, including Clapton, who left the successful Yardbirds to join Mayall’s Bluesbreakers before moving on to Cream, Derek and the Dominos, Blind Faith and a solo career; Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood, who formed Fleetwood Mac; and Taylor.  Mayall was so well regarded as a band leader that Harvey Mandel, Larry Taylor and Walter Trout all left a successful Canned Heat to join Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.  On 1990’s A Sense of Place, Sonny Landreth was essentially a member of the band though credited as a guest artist.  Coco Montoya also played with the Bluesbreakers, leaving in 1993 to be replaced with Buddy Whittington.  But Mayall’s reputation as a band leader and mentor ignores his own musical talents.  A multi-instrumentalist, Mayall played all the parts except drums on The Blues Alone in 1967.  And he is among the most exciting blues harp players in the world – one listen to “Room to Move” on Turning Point should convince any skeptics of that.

Hailing from Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, Mayall attended art college while living in a treehouse (mustn’t leave that part out!) in Manchester after serving the military in Korea.  While working as an artist, Mayall continued to pursue his passion for the blues, eventually moving to London in 1963.  Mayall’s 1960s albums with Clapton, Green and Taylor are blues-rock classics, but over the years he has continued to produce high quality music, conquered an alcohol dependency, and matured as a showman (he’ll play “Room to Move” on request now – unlike on Jazz Blues Fusion, where he can be heard refusing, saying “What, did you come here to hear an old record or something?”).  He has released several later-career gems, such as A Sense of Place in 1990, Stories in 2002, Tough in 2009 and A Special Life in 2014 and Find a Way to Care in 2015.  In 2015 and 2016, Forty Below Records released archival recordings, John Mayal’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 Vol.s 1 & 2, which featured Mayall with Green, McVie and Fleetwood in concert performances in several London clubs.

Mayall continues to surround himself with fabulous musicians like guitarist Rocky Athas, bassist Greg Rzab and drummer Jay Davenport.  Talk About That is another in a long line of late career, solid albums by Mayall and his crew.  Guitar slinger Joe Walsh joins on two great songs, “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards on the Table.”  Mayall’s harp and vocals on a cover of Jimmy Rogers’ “Goin’ Away Baby” may remind longtime followers of some of Mayall’s 70s stuff with its relaxed, unhurried tone.  “Blue Midnight” is a haunting, jazzy affair, and check out “Across the County Line” below to hear Mayall on the harp, keyboards and vocals on one of his own original compositions. And, an artist, he is still designing his own album covers – something he has done throughout his career.

Bill Wilcox - February 01, 2017
© 2017 Twangville

British blues legend and Blues Hall of Fame member John Mayall has finished up a new CD titled Talk About That, scheduled for January 27, 2017 release by Forty Below Records, and that’s good news indeed! Working with his longtime band members Rocky Athas (guitar), Greg Rzab (bass), and Jay Davenport (drums), the talented multi-instrumentalist Mayall co-produced Talk About That with Forty Below President Eric Corne at the House of Blues Studio in Encino, California.

Talk About That features eleven tracks, including eight original songs and smokin’ covers of Memphis soul legend Bettye Crutcher’s “It’s Hard Going Up,” bluesman Jimmy Rogers’ “Goin’ Away Baby,” and rocker Jerry Lynn Williams’ “Don’t Deny Me.” Of the original tunes, the New Orleans-flavored “Gimme Some of That Gumbo” features a three-piece horn section to spice up the recording. The album also features former James Gang/Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh performing on the Mayall originals “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards On The Table.”

 “When I first had the idea for the title track, ‘Talk about That,’ I wanted to write lyrics that were about aspects of life that were running through my head,” says John Mayall in a press release for the new album. “I also wanted to give the song a modern groove that would convey the fun mood driving the piece. Greg and Jay laid down a really infectious rhythm for me to feature my keyboard chops and bring the song to life with a really funky feel driving it.” Mayall’s “The Devil Must Be Laughing,” which deals with the current political climate, was recorded in a single take and features Walsh’s dynamic fretwork.

The sessions for Talk About That also represent the last recordings created by Mayall’s longstanding four-piece band. Shortly after wrapping up the album, guitarist Rocky Athas parted ways with the band and will pursue his solo career. In a statement, Mayall said “due to severe storm conditions recently, guitarist Rocky Athas was unable to get out of Dallas for my recent festival shows that led to my performing as a trio. Having never performed anywhere or at any time without a guitar sidekick, I found that I was able to explore new territories in a trio configuration playing organ, keyboards, harmonica and guitar. Needless to say I was surprised at how different and stimulating the experience was for me as a performer.”

“So now, as Greg Rzab, Jay Davenport and I embark on several weeks of intensive touring all around the States,” says Mayall, “we hope you all will enjoy the fireworks coming your way as my live show calendar brings us to your expectant ears.” Check out the video of the making of Talk About That below and plan on catching Mayall and crew when they hit your hometown.

Rev. Keith A. Gordon - November 09, 2016

Iconic musician and Blues Hall of Fame member John Mayall releases his latest CD, "Talk About That". Joining Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica and guitar) and Greg Rzab (bass), Jay Davenport (drums) and Rocky Athas (guitar) as special guest is legendary guitarist Joe Walsh, who plays on two tracks, "The Devil Must Be Laughing" and "Cards on the Table," both John Mayall compositions. The songs showcase Walsh's amazing guitar work and are destined to be two of the many highlights on this new disc.

For Joe Walsh, playing on a session with one of his musical heroes also held a special place. "It has been a bucket-list item since 1970 to play with John Mayall," states Walsh. "John had a run of GREAT British guitarists (one after another) with his 'Bluesbreakers' albums, and that's how many of us in the States became aware of them. Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor - I studied them all for hours and became a much better guitarist as a result. The albums were legendary stuff and I have wanted to work with John for years and years, wondering what it would be like." "Finally got the chance - and he was the complete gentleman and fine, fine musician I had always hoped he would be. When you meet a hero who helped shape your career – it's a wonderful feeling to find they're even cooler than you always thought they were."

Produced by John Mayall (who also designed the album package) and Forty Below Records president Eric Corne (who also engineered and mixed), Talk about That was recorded at House of Blues Studio in Encino, California, and contains 11 tracks: eight originals, plus covers from Memphis soul music songwriter Bettye Crutcher ("It's Hard Going Up"), blues great Jimmy Rogers ("Goin' Away Baby") and rock singer/songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams ("Don't Deny Me").

The album also showcases a three-piece horn section that adds extra punch on several tracks, including the infectious New Orleans-flavored "Gimme Some Of That Gumbo."


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