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John Mayall - The Latest Edition

John Mayall - The Latest Edition

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Genre: blues-rock
Rating: ** (2 stars)
Title:  The Latest Edition
Company: Polydor
Catalog: PD 6030
Country/State: UK
Year: 1974
Grade (cover/record): VG+ / VG+
Comments: gatefold sleeve
Available: 1
Catalog ID: 6076
Price: $10.00

I'm hard pressed to think of a modern artist with as extensive a recording catalog as bluesman John Mayall. The thing that makes it even more amazing is the fact so much of his catalog is pedestrian, if not outright dull. Not that I don't enjoy a good blues rock album on occasion, but can you imagine trying to wade through the length of Mayall's 50 year catalog? Take issue with those comments? Well I challenge you to slog your way through 1974's "The Latest Edition". Co-produced by Tom Wilson and Eirik the Norwegian (?), this time out the album featured all original Mayall material. Backed by yet another new lineup (by my count this was line up number 24 - hence the flippant title), there really wasn't much of interest this time out. Blues remained Mayall's raison d'etre, but this time around he seemed interested in expanding the audience with a couple of more mainstream numbers - check out 'Going To Take Me Time', 'One of the Few' and 'Love Songs'. The results were okay ... not his best, not his worst.

- I'm assuming 'Gasoline Blues' was inspired by the mid-1970s OPEC oil shock. Slightly more rock-ish than your typical Mayall effort, it was also mildly funny (unless you were sitting in a line at a gas station waiting to fill up your tank). On the other hand the humor's probably lost on anyone younger than 50. rating: ** stars
- Mayall's never been the most overwhelming vocalist and on 'Perfect Peace' he sounded positively ghastly. Barely in tune, you were left to wonder whether he'd actually make it through the song. Shame since the song was actually pretty good with some nice lead guitar from Hightide Harris and Randy Resnick. rating: *** stars
- 'Going To Take Me Time' found Mayall and company taking a stab at getting funky ... Yeah, funk clearly wasn't Mayall's forte, but I'll give him credit for trying. In spite of Mayall's harmonica solo, the result was actually one of the album's more enjoyable tracks. rating: *** stars
- A standard country-blues number with Mayall sounding like his hand was caught in a vice, 'Deep Down Feelings' opened up with some stunning acoustic slide guitar from Harris. That guitar saved the track and actually made it one of the album's standout performances. rating: **** stars
- Ah, Mayall taking a stab at social commentary ... hum, a song that covers the waterfront from Richard Nixon's impeachment to rising crime rates. Well, I guess the sentiments in 'Troubled Times' are just as applicable today as they were in 1974. Mayall's tinkling keyboards were pretty funny to hear. rating: ** stars
- Wow, funk and social commentary ... Yeah, 'The Pusher Man' wasn't the most subtle anti-drug song you've ever heard, but you had to give him credit for taking a stand on an issue few musicians were willing to touch. Also kudos to Mayall for writing some rather graphic lyrics detailing the dangers associated with illicit drugs. rating: ** stars
- 'One of the Few' was an oddity in Mayall's catalog - namely an out-and-out stab at a pop song. Different and oddly intriguing though it would have been even better without the extended Red Holloway sax solo. rating: *** stars
- 'Love Songs' was a surprisingly mainstream ballad with a pretty guitar solo and some surprisingly tasteful Mayall keyboards, though Mayall simply didn't have the commercial voice to ultimately pull it off. rating: ** stars
- Another up-tempo blues effort, had a decent chorus, but it wasn't enough to make up for the rest of the songs plodding structure. rating: ** stars
- To my ears 'A Crazy Game' was the album's best track. Powered by a cool Larry Taylor bass line and some of Mayall's best harmonica, the result was an energetic and slightly funky effort, with Mayall and company actually sounding like they had fun recording the track. rating: **** stars

Hey, at least the cast on Mayall's leg was pretty cool !

A commercial disappointment, the album failed to chart in the States and also spelled the end to Mayall's longstanding relationship with Polydor. His next album saw him signed by ABC.

"The Latest Edition" track listing:
(side 1)
1.) Gasoline Blues (John Mayall) - 3:41
2.) Perfect Peace (John Mayall) - 3:50
3.) Going To Take Me Time (John Mayall) - 2:55
4.) Deep Down Feelings (John Mayall) - 4:42
5.) Troubled Times (John Mayall) - 4:11

(side 2)
1.) The Pusher Man (John Mayall) - 4:05
2.) One of the Few (John Mayall) - 2:44
3.) Love Songs (John Mayall) - 5:39
4.) Little Kitten (John Mayall) - 2:35
5.) A Crazy Game (John Mayall) - 4:35
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