Despite my best intentions, I found myself ready to forgive John Mayer and love his new album Born and Raised on first listen of “Queen of California”. While Battle Studies was utterly horrifying (and his cover of “I’m On Fire” nearly unforgivable) his latest record finds him stripped down with a country edge a la late era Eric Clapton. It’s a mellower affair, and “Queen of California” is a stand-out track, evident from its upbeat finger-picked beginning, to the nice country slide touches and the beautiful bridge that he throws into a couple verses (see :35 seconds in). It’s commonplace to call John Mayer a narcissistic asshole, but plenty more rockstars have worn the title. With Born and Raised, Mayer may have finally found a way to channel his inner demons with a Ryan Adamsesque flavor.
You can grab the Double Vinyl for Born & Raised off of Mayer’s official site
The digital album can be found the conventional route on iTunes
LIYL: Eric Clapton, Ryan Adams
“Let Me Do It To You” is a gem off of J.J. Cales unheralded1976 album Troubadour. While the lyrics are simple and to the point, it’s the music and catchy melody that really shine here and though Eric Clapton would make a hit out of another track off this album, “Cocaine” you can see the foundation of the groove for Clapton’s own “Lay Down Sally” in this fun track. Clapton might have got the rhythm of Cale’s guitar-work down, but his covers are nowhere near as funky as these originals, check out the bouncing lead on “Cocaine” that I’ve included as a bonus below.
The original was a disco meets new wave stylized single, this cover breathes new life into the melody and arrangement with mandolins banjos upright bass and a sublime guitar solo. I’d never thought I’d hear a man cover Blondie so well.
I found this band by way of covers its lead singer (Eef Barzelay) had done. Yet this original shows they are capable of more than just cover band fare, like a less grating R.E.M. with some vintage Rolling Stones guitar thrown in, this song builds and builds, your enjoyment growing along with it.
Most of you might recognize this song as being in the Fender myTouch commercial, and its a sweet song. Clapton made a career of sunny eyed blues numbers like this, the hook is undeniable and the lyrics are heartfelt.
Both are masters of the laid back acoustic vibe, so its no surprise how the arrangement plays out, whats special is their harmony, tight and organic, you can tell these guys really respect each other and they play off each other really well.
The Kooks had so much energy on their debut that it was no surprise success caught on quickly, but the Kooks aren’t a flash in the pan, their melodies are tight their dynamics are perfect and they single-handedly carry guitar rock on their backs with the riffs in this song.
Culled from the Curtis/Live album, MM S &W is a lesson in band dynamics with the drummer so deep in the pocket of the groove he makes Mitch Mitchell seem like an amateur, the harmonies are wonderfully placed with the guitar and this whole track just moves. The beauty of Mayfield isn’t that his melodys go to crazy places, its the movement and inspiration within them, and on those terms theres no one better.
Why this song? Well Martin Luther King Jr. using it as inspiration for his civil rights goals is a sure good reason, and Curtis Mayfield greatly inspired Jimi Hendrix’s playing style on guitar, if you even needed another one.