John Mayall: The Sun Is Shining Down Review

When it comes to the British Blues scene, nobody has even come close to torching it to the magnitude that John Mayall has. In a career now spanning over 60 years, his band have kindled the careers of bountiful fledgling musical talents – Mick Taylor, Peter Green, and a certain Mr. Clapton just to name a few.

Even at the ripe age of 88, the “Godfather of the British Blues” shows no signs of reflecting the warm rays that toast his signature jazz-blues fusion sound. You won’t find a musician out there in the blues hemisphere that wouldn’t triple jump at the prospect of rubbing shoulders alongside a man imbued in blues royalty. The Sun Is Shining Down is no exception when it comes to Mayall’s strict recruitment policy that prides itself on the cream of the crop.

With special guests including The Heartbreakers’ Mike Campbell, rising guitar virtuoso Marcus King, Chicago Blues icon Melvin Taylor, Scarlet Rivera (famously a member of Bob Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue), and Hawaiian ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro, it’s as aloof from the bottom of the well as one has come to expect from a man with an uncanny ear for talent and a deep-rooted obsession for the genre.

As an artist who provides the link between Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones, it’s safe to say his seat in musical history is already reserved. If you had any qualms about Mayall’s appetite to keep producing the goods, then the opening track “Hungry And Ready” will soon put any premonitions you had to bed. Mayall sounds energized – his voice still cuts the mustard, and if you needed reminding (like the writer here) he’s one hell of a harmonica player. Taylor also illustrates his class with some wonderfully fluid lead playing.

“Take No More” brings forth the innocence of youth as King takes center stage. Known for his soaring humbucker tone, he smokes and sizzles throughout this soulful Mayall original, without the slightest glimpse of being overawed. “Chills and Thrills” gives me funky goosebumps as Campbell proves himself a master of understated guitar. Not one to waste a note, his tasty fretwork is so melodic that you would think he’s a mainstay in among the star-studded cast.

I don’t often get to mention the electric ukulele, but the skill of Shimabukuro on “One Special Lady” is nothing short of mesmerizing. It brings a rich and fuller sound, that balances perfectly alongside the backing band par excellence.

On the fittingly titled “A Quitter Never Wins”, Mayall deservedly hogs the limelight as he goes at it solo without a guest to sprinkle over fairy dust. Wrapping up with the title track “The Sun Is Shining Down”, Carolyn Wonderland (approaching her fourth year as the band’s lead guitarist) plays beautifully on this mid-tempo number that leaves me feeling all red sky at night, shepherd’s delight.

I don’t think any superlatives exist that can do justice to John Mayall’s contribution to blues music. At his stage in life and given all he’s achieved, you have to take off your shoes (as well as tip your hat) to the level of work he’s still putting out there.

Whether Mayall holds promise for a few more sunrises remains to be seen, but mercifully there’s no glimmer of him swanning off into the sunset anytime soon. Keep on shining John.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Take No More
– Chills & Thrills
– One Special Lady
– The Sun Is Shining Down

The Big Hit

– One Special Lady

Buy the album: Amazon | Amazon UK

One thought on “John Mayall: The Sun Is Shining Down Review

  • January 23, 2022 at 5:54 am
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    Mr Mayall is the most significant blues musician to ever stand on a stage. I had purchased tickets to see him on 2020 , unfortunately the show was cancelled due to Covid. A legend ,perhaps He may your again one day.Keep Rocking Johnny!!!!

    Reply

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