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Non-Prog CD Reviews

John Mayall

Tough

Review by Gary Hill

Here we get a killer blues rock album. What else do you really expect from John Mayall, though. The man has been doing this type of music forever (or at least it seems like it) so he does it better than most. You just can’t go wrong with a new Mayall release and this is certainly proof of that fact.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2009  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Nothing To Do With Love
Keyboards start this. Guitar joins, bringing it into hard rock territory. The harmonica lends a blues edge. The vocals bring the tune into a classic blues rock vibe. This is classic Mayall for sure. I really love the guitar solo. It's so classy and evocative. It really steals the show and takes up a big chunk of the track. This is just solid stuff.
Just What You're Looking For
A funky, retro tinged groove, this is a good tune, but not the powerhouse type of cut that opened the disc. The track does include some killer old school organ work, though.
Playing With A Losing Hand
Here’s the most purely bluesy cut to date on the set. It’s another strong track and this one really works quite well. I’d peg it as a highlight of the set. 
An Eye For An Eye
This is even more pure blues and feels like it could have been an old lost recording from the early 1960’s. I can hear a lot of B.B. King stylings on this. 
How Far Down
Coming in with an old school, Robert Johnson-like blues sound, this powers out into a more electrified and modern rocker. It’s still got plenty of that old school blues in the midst, though. 
Train To My Heart
A hard rocking cut this is more like the newer style of blues rock made popular by guys like Stevie Ray Vaughn. 
Slow Train To Nowhere
We're back into more of the B.B. King styled, old school blues here, This one is especially tasty and I really like the non-flashy guitar solo a lot. “Slow Train To Nowhere” is definitely one of the highlights of the set.
Number's Down
There’s still some blues in this, but it’s really more of a pure rocker. It reminds me a bit of The Band, but without the country edge.
That Good Old Rockin' Blues
As you might guess from the title, this one’s a retro textured, hard rocking bluesy number. It is a solid cut, but not really a standout. Still, there’s some cool honky tonk piano and smoking lead guitar work.
Tough Times Ahead
Here’s a song for modern times. It’s all about the current economic crisis. It’s a more melodic, mellower, blues rocker. It’s also very cool and one of the highlights of the album. It’s got some especially tasty (and tasteful) guitar work.
The Sum Of Something
Another cut that makes me think of B.B. King, this is another killer song.
 
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