Friday, May 11, 2007

Music Review: John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers - In The Palace Of The King

by T. Michael Testi ( , PhotographyToday, ATAEE)

What can you say when a blues musician does a tribute to a legendary guitarist; in this case Freddie King, the bluesman from Texas? When they do it well, you can admire it, when it comes from the legend-maker, it becomes something to be truly treasured!

Spanning a career of five decades and creating the careers of hundreds of musicians over the last four decades, John Mayall, along with the Bluesbreakers, is putting out his 56th album this week. In The Palace Of The King is a tribute to the late Freddie King (1934-1976).

According to his first successful student, Eric Clapton, "John Mayall has actually run an incredibly great school for musicians." Some of his later pupils include Peter Green (Fleetwood Mac), John McVie (Fleetwood Mac), Mick Fleetwood (Fleetwood Mac), Harvey Mandel (Canned Heat), Kal David (Kal David Band), Aynsley Dunbar (Journey, Frank Zappa, Jefferson Starship David Bowie), Andy Fraser (Free), Larry Taylor (Canned Heat), and Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones).

It is only fitting that Mayall and company do this kind of album since they have been associated with the music of Freddie King from the beginning. According to Mayall, "So, it was a logical step for the band to record an album of songs written by him or closely associated with him". And from one of the songs on the album, "He was a big man from Texas, He played an even bigger guitar. He was the king of the Kings, born to be a superstar."

There is not a bad song in the bunch. They range from Don Nix's "Going Down"; probably the best known song, with a hefty back beat and furious bass to "Palace of the King" written by Nix, Leon Russel and Donald "Duck" Dunn, the energetic blues-rock ditty that has Mayall powering an upbeat vocal.

There are slow mercilessly powerful songs like "Help me through the Day" with its deep horns and sad emotion. And Mayall's original, "Time to Go" with smooth guitar leads playing off the sax and horn sections.

As far as a little more honky-tonk feel, you have "You know that you love me" and "I Love You More Every Day", and Mayall's other original "King of Kings". Here he provides a cacophony of piano leads trading into guitar leads which trade into sax leads.

At 73, John Mayall is still going strong with no sign of slowing down anytime soon. With the release of In The Palace Of The King, John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers will be kicking off their 2007 international tour to support the album. If you can get to one of the numerous dates, then by all means get out to see this legend and master; the godfather of British blues. If you can't, then buy In The Palace Of The King, you will be glad you did!

In The Palace Of The King song listing

You Know That You Love Me
Goin' Down
Some Other Day, Some Other Time
Palace Of The King
I'd Rather Be Blind
Time To Go
Big Legged Woman
Now I Got A Woman
I Love You More Every Day
Help Me Through The Day
Cannonball Shuffle You've Got Me Licked
King Of Kings
Living On The Highway

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