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Rhythm & Views

John Mayer Trio

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Say what you will about John Mayer; I've always defended him as a damn good guitar player, even though he occasionally writes some sappy songs. If you've ever caught some footage of him performing live, you understand what I'm talking about--the guy can play a mean blues guitar.

As if to remind everybody that his musical vocabulary includes more than songs about getting girls into bed, Mayer formed the John Mayer Trio, with Steve Jordan (Blues Brothers) on drums and Pino Palladino on bass. Try! showcases the best of the trio's recent concert tour--you can hear Mayer's blues guitar, front and center, perfectly executed under Mayer's vocals, and before you shrug it off as production overdubs, remember these are live recordings. Listen to the Trio's version of Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman," and what you're hearing is the real thing--Jordan's drums and Palladino's bass stick to the floor as Mayer's guitar hits the roof.

New originals penned by Mayer are definite highlights--"Who Did You Think I Was" kicks the album off with an infectious blues guitar riff, and "Out of My Mind" dances on a smooth rhythm--and Mayer's version of Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow" is a decent interpretation. Even the version of "Daughters" (from 2004's Heavier Things), which won a Grammy and has appeared on every wedding playlist since its release, sounds way better slowed down and played with guitar bends and twirls ... if you can ignore the girls screaming in the background. Maybe it's not the best blues rock ever recorded, but it sure ain't no "Your Body Is a Wonderland."

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