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[Off The Record]
Stars graphics
John Mayall & Friends

" Asleep at the Wheel " might have been a better title for this disappointing all-star session. The shame is that the album has so much promise. At 67, the British blues pioneer is still an exciting performer, and heís teamed with his former Bluesbreakers bandmates Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, and Mick Taylor, plus Steve Cropper, Otis Rush, Billy Gibbons, Billy Preston, Steve Miller, and Gary Moore. But the edgy vitality thatís been the hallmark of Mayallís singing is missing. In fact, thereís so little energy in these tracks that a decent vocal turn from the Arista labelís teenage blues puppet Shannon Curfman makes " Testify " a standout.

The best contributions come from Rush, who lights a firecracker with passionate moaning on his classic " So Many Roads, " and Moore, who squeezes dark, slow, sensitive notes out of his Les Paul on " If I Donít Get Home. " The other star players are as anonymous as hired hands. Even the ebullient Gibbons, who has made a career of being over the top, canít muster the gumption to drop a single one of his trademark harmonic squeals or low, gargling runs into " Put It Right Back. " Which is what you should do if you find yourself in a store with this disc in your hand.

(John Mayall plays the House of Blues next Friday, April 27. Call 617-491-BLUE.)


Issue Date: April 19 - 25, 2001

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