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John Mayall's "Three For The Road" captures blues legend in his element - a loose, live setting

Forty Below Records
"Three For The Road" features John Mayall, Greg Rzab and Jay Davenport.
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ALBUM REVIEW: Three For The Road by John Mayall (Forty Below Records) 2018

The Year 2018 has been a phenomenally-good year for blues albums. New records from Eric JohansonBuddy Guy and Chris Thomas King and Shemekia Copeland have been played repeatedly here at the offices of Red Dirt Report. And for good reason – they are sooooo good. As Buddy Guy reminds us, the blues are alive and well!

And veteran British blues artist John Mayall has delivered the goods, once again, with a new live album titled Three For The Road, featuring Mayall along with bassist Greg Rzab and drummer Jay Davenport.

A live album coming hot on the heels of 2017’s phenomenally-good Talk About That studio album, Three For The Road, this 10-song collection, recorded live in Germany, highlights the octogenarian’s talents on vocals, harmonica and keyboards as he rolls through songs ranging from Eddie Taylor’s “Big Town Playboy to “Congo Square,” by Louisiana native and slide guitar legend Sonny Landreth, who has collaborated with Mayall for years. That song – coming in at over 11 minutes, closes out Three For The Road.

It has been well over five decades that John Mayall has been playing blues and blues rock, along with his band the Bluesbreakers, which featured Eric Clapton on their 1966 breakthrough record Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton, which I note in my new book Rock Catapult: 1966 – The Launch of Modern Rock & Roll.

Mayall’s longevity and commitment to blues and roots music has only further cemented his influence on those music genres. He knows what he likes and, with his two bandmates, finds that groove and gives the audience its money’s worth.

And while there is no “I’m Your Witchdoctor” here (Mayall’s 1965 single, produced by a young guitarist named Jimmy Page), we do get a Mayall fan favorite, “Streamline,” which first appeared on the Bluesbreakers’ 1968 album Crusade. That original version featured future Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor playing lead, while here, 84-year old Mayall goes to town on electric organ.

The late, great St. Louis blues singer and pianist Henry Townsend (who was active for nine decades – from 1929 to 2006!!!) gets the honor of having Mayall (brilliant on piano) cover his song “Tears Came Rollin’ Down,” a moody, heartbreaking song, that Mayall and co. keep going for nearly 10 minutes. 

Mayall is deep within his element here, thriving in a live setting. I'm reminded of one of my favorite, earlier Mayall live albums, 1972's eclectic and jazzy Moving On. While I do love Mayall's studio material, at heart the man is a live performer, doing what he has always loved to do - play music from the heart.

EDITOR'S NOTE: And for those who are interested, Mayall has already recorded a new studio record, Nobody Told Me, in February 2019, according to, with guest guitarists including Alex Lifeson of Rush, Todd Rundgren, Steven Van Zandt, Larry McCray, Joe Bonamassa and Carolyn Wonderland. It will definitely be more guitar-centric.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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