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John Mayall: The Sun Is Shining Down

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John Mayall: The Sun Is Shining Down
British blues master John Mayall can still turn out a rich collection of originals and covers six decades, and approximately sixty albums, after his first songs were released in the early 1960s. Add the fact that he still has a knack for enlisting top guitarists—this time Mayall spotlights Mississippi born/Chicago bred Melvin Taylor among others—and it is a Brit-led blues bash at its best.

Often considered the Godfather of British Blues, Mayall said during a 1980s interview that "my first exposure to music was back in the late '30s. I grew up on American jazz and blues because my father had an extensive jazz and blues [record] collection." Boogie woogie, a hybrid of blues, R&B and, later, a bit of swing, was also one of his early favorites. 1968's Bare Wires (Decca) featured a pair of jazz/blues saxophonists as well as a cornet player, while the title of 1972's live Jazz Blues Fusion (Polydor) accurately announces what you will be hearing. Although Mayall always stays true to his first love and has often proclaimed blues is "the only thing I know," he has occasionally been influenced by jazz as well.

The Sun is Shining Down is firmly rooted in the blues but a vibrant horn section of sax, trumpet and trombone plays an important role throughout. The first three songs (plus the last few) are the disc's strongest. They all feature gritty, authentic blues with just a touch of polish. Taylor helps Mayall launch the disc with "Hungry and Ready," complete with the potent horns and Mayall's incisive harp, and then Taylor returns one more time toward the end with "Driving Wheel." He is one of the secret ingredients since he is nimble, fleet and has been the real deal for decades.

The album's second cut, "Can't Take No More," is one of the songs where Mayall roars back and showcases his organ skills. The disc is heavy on welcoming numerous guest artists including violinist Scarlet Rivera, who has recorded world music, new age and worked with Bob Dylan, ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro, a master of jazz, blues, rock and classical, guitarist Mike Campbell, a skilled Americana/rock artist and more. As for Mayall, his raw, sienna vocals have been burnished by time and he remains potent and poignant.

There have been times when a large cast of guest musicians is invited to help support veteran stars. In this case, the guests are lucky they are keeping pace with this energized musician.

Track Listing

Hungry and Ready; Can't Take No More; I'm As Good As Gone; Got to Find A Better Way; Chills and Thrills; One Special Lady; A Quitter Never Wins; Deep Blue Sea; Driving Wheel; the Sun Is Shining Down.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

John Mayall: Hammond B3, piano, Wurlitzer electric, harmonica.

Album information

Title: The Sun Is Shining Down | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Forty Below Records


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