Thirty years after the release of Back To the Roots on the Polydor label, Eagle Records invited Mayall to bring together his musical friends and some of his band's alumnus to record his forty-fourth album. Both releases had much the same musical concept, but the former furthered British blues in the 70s, and the latter reaffirms its lasting history three decades later. Both fabulous combinations of rock and blues, Along For The Ride is a daunting logistical accomplishment bringing a wide array of blues people and rockers into the studio.
Bottom line support comes from the current Bluesbreakers band: Buddy Whittington on guitar, Joe Yuele keeping drum time, and David Smith on the hard-end bass. Former band mates showing up to help out include Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Mick Taylor, and saxmen Red Holloway and Dick Heckstall-Smith. The other illustrious help is Billy Gibbons, Otis Rush, Shannon Kurfman, Steve Miller, Gary Moore, Billy Preston, Jeff Healey, Jonny Lang, Steve Cropper, and Reese Wynans. Also showing up are Andy Fairweather-Low, Joe and Bob Delgado, Lenny Castro, Davy Graham, Greg Rzab, Tom Canning, and singers Chris Rea, Crystal Taliefero and Wendy Moten. The engineer, mixer, and producer on this biscuit is David Z.
The double ax attack of Healey and Cropper excites the opener, "A World Of Hurt", and the following title tune is pumped by Mayall, Preston, and Canning; all trouncing the ivories. There's the Texas axe attack of Gibbons and filling Hammond organ by Canning on "Put It Right Back". Meanwhile, Mayall's work with the youngsters: Jonny Lang on "That's Why I Love You So" and Shannon Kurfman on "Testify" sets new limits with low down and dirty, groovin' blues. If you miss the reunion of Green, Fleetwood, and McVie (all of whom left the Bluesbreakers to form Fleetwood Mac) on "Yo Yo Man" then that's your own fault; 'cause is Steve Miller jammin' on it too!
You can hear Otis Rush and Mayall tear up "So Many Roads", a tune they have both recorded separately, or catch a funky clavinet beat from Preston and a whining harp line on "World War Blues". Spicy Castro percussion gives a slick Latin flavor to Mayall's "California", and the closing "She Don't Play By The Rules" has beautiful lead lines by Mick Taylor and more elegant harp reflections.
Mayall sings, plays his harps, and lays out alot of keyboard action here. He even hits the clavinet and slide guitar on a couple tunes. A masterful vocalist and songwriter, Mayall has a brilliant set put together on this platter. This, Mayall's latest masterpiece, has jumpin' beats, rockin' harmonies, and a hardcore support crew! Illuminating performances at every turn, something intriguing in every mix, and a downright winner anyway you look at it!
Eagle Records; c/o Eagle House; 22 Armoury Way, Wandsworth; London SW18 1EZ; England: or, www.eagle-rock.com
This review is copyright © 2001 by Mark A. Cole, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.
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