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Non-Prog CD Reviews

John Mayall

and the Blues Breakers - Road Dogs

Review by Gary Hill

John Mayall is without question a legend. The man has been making blues for more years than a lot of musicians around today have been alive. He is one of the most integral people to the British Blues movement, and is still making vital albums to this day. Road Dogs is the latest from him. The disc shows that Mayall can do the hard rocking blues that Stevie Ray Vaughn and others made their chosen sound as well as any of them. It also shows that he is not afraid to reach back to older more traditional forms of the medium either. Indeed, a good chunk of the album is composed of older types of blues. The thing is, Mayall does it all with style and class. Frankly, for the most part I enjoy the harder rocking ones more, but that's more my personal taste than anything else. All styles are delivered with an authenticity and flair that works quite well. Here's hoping Mayall is around for a lot longer to keep punching out the blues.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Road Dogs
Proving that he still dishes up this brand of blues rock as well as any, Mayall and the band jump in with this mid tempo grind. It features a couple tasty, but not flashy guitar solos and a pretty killer extended instrumental outro.
Short Wave Radio
This is a slow and gritty, more traditional blues with a very BB King type of texture. It features an awesome duel between the keys and the guitar.
So Glad
A blues stomp closer to ZZ Top's brand (but Mayall was doing this way before that little ol' band from Tejas), this one feels a bit like BB King and Buddy Guy, too. The guitar solo on this one just sings, dances and screams in a very extended jam.
Forty Days
This one reaches back even further for a back porch, harmonica laden acoustic blues performance.
To Heal the Pain
Another slower old school blues, violin overtop adds a bit of a country feel to this one. It doesn't do much for me.
Burned Bridges
Staying in the traditional blues range, this is a jazzy romp that could have come out of the 1940's. It's quite cool. It features some killer harmonica work.
Snake Eye
This has a more modern hard-edged soulful approach, and it really rocks.
Kona Village
This is a fun mellow bluesy rocker.
Beyond Control
This hard rocking blues jam is a real smoker. It has some killer keyboard and guitar soloing. In fact, this I one of the best cuts on the disc, and has some of the most awesome guitar work on show here.
Chaos in the Neighborhood
With a more straightforward rock and roll texture, this one is still steeped in the blues. This is another standout track, and a real stomper. It also has some even more stellar guitar work. That fact is even more incredible when you consider that the lead guitar on this track is handled by guest musician Eric Steckel. Now, Steckel, who has his own band, is 14 years old! This kid can put lots of guitarists out there to shame. I'd never heard of him before, but you can bet I'll be checking into this guy. He's got a bright future ahead of him.
You'll Survive
This is another down-home blues cut. It has a fast paced jazzy groove, but also some country like textures. That violin returns to bring the country flair back.
Awestruck and Spellbound
Gritty hard-edged blues rocking is on the bill once again. and this grind is another killer. In fact, it's my favorite track on the disc. This quotes some killer classics, too - all of which are mentioned in the lyrics.
With You
A retro sound permeates this one. It feels a bit like Buddy Guy or BB King. The keys rule this one, delivering a couple powerful solos.
Bromwell's Beat
The sole instrumental on the disc, this one is a bouncy sort of jam that's fun and feels very retro.
Scrambling
This is another straightforward blues rocker. It isn't the strongest track on the CD, but definitely is solid enough to make for a strong album closer.
 
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