John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers Road Dogs

With 72 years and some 54 records behind him, John Mayall remains the Headmaster of British Blues. More often than not, his own staggering contribution lies in the shadow of those who have graduated from his private blues school — and we all know who they are — but it was Mayall who first picked up the flag and ran with it, taking the best of American blues and transforming them into an invasion by those who found its soul long before its country of origin. And, true to his school, Mayall believes in the practice of backing up releases with the creative process afforded by the road. Indeed, this was the blues musician’s responsibility and nobody knew it better than those who studied under his strict regimen. The road served as the testing ground for his material, if not as a creative source for everything that would follow. The title track not only provides Mayall with the ultimate mission statement ("we’re heading to your town”) but encapsulates his work ethic. This 15-track snapshot covers the roots of his addiction ("Short Wave Radio”), social commentary ("Chaos in the Neighbourhood”), current events ("Heal the Pain”), true love ("With You”) and even revenge ("Snake Eye”). His road-polished Bluesbreakers more than carry the load with guitarist Buddy Whittington filling tall shoes effortlessly, having studied his predecessors well. This is worthy blues-rock that remains loyal to the Mayall sound. It may favour more guitar than the harmonica-heavy style of Mayall’s younger years but, it’s another high point in a career with few lows. (Eagle)