John Mayall

Talk About That

(Forty Below Records)

The fruitful partnership between veteran player, singer and bandleader Mayall and producer Eric Corne continues. The current run of studio albums have captured the colour and still-there daring of John and his sharp and versatile group, still comprising on this set Rocky Athas on guitar, Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport drums.

As regards material, there are eight originals and versions of a Bettye Crutcher hit ‘It’s Hard Going Up’ – a bit of a Carry On title – and Jerry Lynn Williams’ ‘Don’t Deny Me’ plus ‘Goin’ Away Baby’, the old Jimmy Rogers song. Horns can be heard on the rousing ‘Gimme Some Of That Gumbo’ and elsewhere. The icing on this sonic cake though is the guest appearance on two cuts of the venerable Joe Walsh.

A lot of his own hits have had a light reggae inflection of course but The James Gang’s original axe maestro can turn his fingers blueswards in a blink and does so here, on ‘The Devil Must Be Laughing’ and ‘Cards On The Table’. The title track is Hammond-flecked funk with grinding bass. Piano rolls through The Crutcher song, great vocal too over damped guitar chording, spicy horns cruising through the cut which does evoke ‘On Your Way Down’, the Toussaint gem.

The Devil is a solemn blues that aches with feel and the odd harmonic jump on the guitar and reflective lyric on the state of the globe at present. The semitone shift sounds really cool as well. Walsh digs deep with a cleanish tone over the unhurried backing. The Rogers tune is harp-led, with fat bass and a guitar figure that is vintage Willie Dixon. The slide is out for Cards on a gum-chewing groove.

The best cut for me is the electric piano tread of ‘Blue Midnight’, terrific vocal and a biting Athas guitar break. Rocky has now left the group to pursue his solo/own band career which is where I first came across him and when we did meet here I found myself on stage with his bass player five minutes later! But that’s another story. Another Mayall collection that bears repeated play.

Pete Sargeant

(Many thanks to Tracy Gosling at Tracy Gosling PR for help with this review)


John Mayall’s new studio album ‘Talk About That’ is out now on Forty Below Records.  You can purchase the album from Amazon UK here:

In addition, John Mayall will be performing a three-night residency at the legendary Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club, London, United Kingdom from Tuesday 4th April 2017 – Thursday 6th April 2017. Each evening will consist of a 7.30pm performance and a 10.15pm performance.

For tickets and more information visit John Mayall’s official website here:

John Mayall