Iconic musician and Blues Hall of Fame member John Mayall will release his latest CD, Talk about That, on January 27 from Forty Below Records. Joining Mayall (vocals, keyboards, harmonica and guitar) and Greg Rzab (bass), Jay Davenport (drums) and Rocky Athas (guitar) as special guest is legendary guitarist Joe Walsh, who plays on two tracks, “The Devil Must Be Laughing” and “Cards on the Table,” both John Mayall compositions. The songs showcase Walsh’s amazing guitar work and are destined to be two of the many highlights on this new disc. Talk about That will be available for pre-orders at both Amazon.com and iTunes starting December 9.
Watch a special preview video of the making of Talk about That: https://youtu.be/BmN7O-Wl6ow
Produced by John Mayall (who also designed the album package) and Forty Below Records president Eric Corne (who also engineered and mixed), Talk about That was recorded at House of Blues Studio in Encino, California, and contains 11 tracks: eight originals, plus covers from Memphis soul music songwriter Bettye Crutcher (“It’s Hard Going Up”), blues great Jimmy Rogers (“Goin’ Away Baby”) and rock singer/songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams (“Don’t Deny Me”). The album also showcases a three-piece horn section that adds extra punch on several tracks, including the infectious New Orleans-flavored “Gimme Some of that Gumbo.”
“When I first had the idea for the title track, ‘Talk about That,’ I wanted to write lyrics that were about aspects of life that were running through my head,” says John Mayall. “I also wanted to give the song a modern groove that would convey the fun mood driving the piece. Greg and Jay laid down a really infectious rhythm for me to feature my keyboard chops and bring the song to life with a really funky feel driving it.”
Throughout his career, John Mayall has always written timely songs that reflect what he sees going on in the world around him, whether it’s war, poverty, social injustice or personal introspection. Such is the case with “The Devil Must Be Laughing,” which deals with the current political and world climate. And that incentive also brought him in touch with Joe Walsh, who contributes some percolating guitar work that melds perfectly with the song’s theme.
“A day before we recorded ‘The Devil Must Be Laughing,’ we got a message through the studio owner that Joe Walsh wanted to come by and possibly play on a track or two as a guest,” recalls Mayall. “Who was I to say no to that idea! So, Joe turned up at noon on the appointed day and with only a quick listen, plugged in and we did the song in one take. The second song closely followed, and with a smile and a quick photo, Joe was done and on his way. What a kick for all of us that day!”
For Joe Walsh, playing on a session with one of his musical heroes also held a special place. “It has been a bucket-list item since 1970 to play with John Mayall,” states Walsh. “John had a run of GREAT British guitarists (one after another) with his ‘Bluesbreakers’ albums, and that’s how many of us in the States became aware of them. Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor - I studied them all for hours and became a much better guitarist as a result. The albums were legendary stuff and I have wanted to work with John for years and years, wondering what it would be like.
“Finally got the chance - and he was the complete gentleman and fine, fine musician I had always hoped he would be. When you meet a hero who helped shape your career – it’s a wonderful feeling to find they’re even cooler than you always thought they were.”
The recording sessions for Talk about That also represent the last recordings with Mayall’s quartet band lineup, as shortly after they were completed, guitarist Rocky Athas left the band to pursue his solo career. Starting with the recent fall tour dates of the British blues “Godfather,” his band became a trio with Mayall, Rzab and Davenport.
In September, John Mayall issued the following statement:
“By now, many of you will have heard the dramatic news that I will now be performing live shows as a trio. I feel I should explain how it all came about in a chain of events that led to my decision. Due to severe storm conditions recently, guitarist Rocky Athas was unable to get out of Dallas for my recent festival shows that led to my performing as a trio. Having never performed anywhere or at any time without a guitar sidekick, I found that I was able to explore new territories in a trio configuration playing organ, keyboards, harmonica and guitar. Needless to say I was surprised at how different and stimulating the experience was for me as a performer.
“When I told Rocky Athas of my decision, he was very understanding and hopefully his popularity in my band for the past seven years will be increased as he resumes his solo career. To me it seems fitting that the final guitar position in my band featured one of the nicest and most talented guys I’ve known and the best in his field. We all wish him well.
“So now, as Greg Rzab, Jay Davenport and I embark on several weeks of intensive touring all around the States, we hope you all will enjoy the fireworks coming your way as my live show calendar brings us to your expectant ears.”
The John Mayall trio will continue to tour throughout the fall and into early 2017 in the U.S., followed by a lengthy European tour in February. The American tour includes several days onboard the “Legends Cruise,” leaving Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and sailing from January 19 – 23.
John Mayall US Tour Dates
11/9 Tower Theatre Bend, OR
11/10 El Rey Theatre Chico, CA
11/11 Rio Theater Santa Cruz, CA
11/12-11/13 Yoshi’s Oakland, CA
11/14 Tower Theatre for Performing Arts Fresno, CA
11/15 Crest Theater Sacramento, CA
11/16 Fremont Theater San Luis Obispo, CA
11/17 Canyon Club Agoura Hills, CA
11/18 The Rose Pasadena, CA
11/19 The Coach House San Juan Cap., CA
11/20 Belly Up Tavern Solana Beach, CA
11/23 Castle Theater @ Maui Arts & Cultural Ctr. Maui, HI
11/25 Palace Theaterilo Hilo, HI
11/26 Honokaa Peoples Theater Honokaa, HI
11/27 Blue Note Hawaii Honolulu, HI
1/19/17 – 1/23/17 – Legends Cruise