There’s an ongoing debate within the British blues community about the relative status of Alexis Korner and John Mayall. With plenty of justification, both can lay claim to the title “Godfather of British Blues”. They were both there in the late 50s and early 60s crusading to popularise the genre with real passion, conviction and commitment and both men put together bands which (at different times)were home to players who went on the become major stars . Korner sadly passed in 1984 by which time he’d started to diversify (remember his CCS collective?) becoming an acclaimed broadcaster and voice over man. Mayall, however, stayed true to his mission – to play and popularise raw blues, the way it was, the way it is and the way it always will be. Keeping the faith, since the blues heyday, he’s continued to put together bands, to play live and to record – and now in his mid 80’s, he’s just released this new 10 tracker.
Given what we’ve just said, you won’t be surprised to learn that ‘Nobody Told Me’ is a traditional, electric blues album that could have been made in any decade since the 50s… indeed the music was all recorded on a vintage Sound City Neve console (at the Foo Fighters studio by the way) – the same console, we’re told, that was used by Fleetwood Mac to record most of ‘Rumours’. (Fans will know that Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie and Mick Fleetwood all started off with Mayall; Peter Green too… a nice connection).
Key cut on the album is the slow, 7 minute title track. The lyrics and sentiment are apt given that Mayall recently suffered a health scare that made him reconsider all kinds of things. Yes, the song oozes blues melancholy but the LP boasts plenty of “up” moments too – notably ‘Like It Like You Do’. More R&R than blues, it’s a nifty mover for an 85 year old! Elsewhere expect lots of classic, biting blues in the manner of, say, Albert King. Everything is delivered with passion, flare and respect for the genre. It goes without saying that the musicianship is of the highest order… hardly surprising, the guest list includes people like Todd Rundgren, Little Steven, Rush’s Alex Lifeson and Joe Bonamassa while a punchy horn section beefs up many of the cuts.
John Mayall’s ‘Nobody Told Me’ is released on February 22nd.