Review: John Mayall — Find A Way To Care

2.5 OUT OF 5 NUTS!

johnmayall-findawaytocareJohn Mayall is nothing less than a Founding Father of Rock. After forming the Bluesbreakers in 1963, Mayall found himself at the core of London’s exploding blues scene, which was overflowing with young British musicians eager to have a go at this exotic American music.

Already in his early thirties at this point, Mayall usually found young phenoms in their teens, nurturing the ugly little ducklings until they flew away as big beautiful ducks. Among the musicians Mayall took under his wing were Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, Mick Taylor, Paul Butterfield, Jimmy McCulloch of Wings, Larry Taylor of Canned Heat, and Aynsley Dunbar, drummer for just about everybody.

Like Art Blakey did for jazz musicians, Mayall taught his young charges about the music business, about gigging and recording, the big things and the little things, a role whose importance can’t be overstated when you consider how far his young charges went. I think this alone qualifies him for recognition in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor he hasn’t yet received.

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In the early 1970s, Mayall “invented” a “new” form of electric blues that didn’t include drums, and once that initiative ran its course, he set about to keep blues idioms alive long after the Rock world largely abandoned them.

He’s discovered a new energy in the past couple of years, and at age 81 he released his second album of new material in two years. Mayall has settled on a core band lineup for the past 10 years or so, and it doesn’t include teenagers anymore, just some guys around half his age.

Find a Way To Care is a solid collection of blues standards and originals, and Mayall mostly hangs up his guitar in favor of keyboards, plus harmonica on a couple of tracks. His voice sounds fantastic, vital and strong, truly incredible for an 81-year-old man.

Highlights include a Mayall original “Ain’t No Guarantees”, which features a funk-inspired bassline and drums, plus some classic Hammond B-3 work from Mayall. “I Feel So Bad” has an old R&B feel with a punchy horn section. “Long Distance Call” features Mayall on lead guitar, a slow, simmering blues that sounds as authentic as it gets. “Ropes And Chains” has an Allman Brothers boogie feel to it, and “Crazy Lady” conjures up New Orleans with its solo piano treatment.

To be honest, there’s nothing too exciting going on here. Personally, I’m not going to go back to this album again and again. But the blues is not about innovation so much, it’s about feel, and most blues fans should find that this album feels right. In a way Mayall is leading the way again, showing Rockers how to do it with integrity once you pass the big 8-0.

Release Date: September 4, 2015

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