My husband and I are long time lovers of the blues, especially the raw Juke Joint sounds of what we call the "Fat Possum" gang — RL Burnside and sons, Nathaniel Mayer, Asie Payton, Paul "Wine" Jones, and Fred McDowell. Always interesting and never safe, these artists define their own musical genres and pull from many different traditions.
Nathaniel Mayer has had an interesting and long career for someone who many folks have just heard of. He recorded for the grittier than Motown Fortune label in the 1960s, singing "Village of Love" (one of his only hits) at the early age of 18. Good raw funky soul music was his calling card.
Since the 60s Mayer has done some studio and back up work, but has built his career on his outrageous raunchy live act. He was rediscovered by Fat Possum in 2003/2004 which saw the release of his highly acclaimed album, I Just Want To Be Held. This was my first introduction to Mayer's howling vocals, raw steaming riffs, and over the top sexuality in such songs as "Stick It or Lick It" and "I Wanna Dance with You".
Now with the Alive Records label, this son of Detroit has recorded what is easily the best album of his career and very possibly one of the best rock/blues/soul/psychedelic albums I've ever heard. Why Don't You Give It To Me? was born after the Black Keys, Dan Auerbach, and Mayer performed together at NYC's Knitting Factory and decided that they should take their scintillating steaming cauldron of music into the recording studio. Recorded in Mayer's hometown of Detroit and produced by Matthew Smith, Dan Auerbach, and Dave Shettler this album is so great, so interesting, and so difficult to categorize.
Mayer opens with the pure funk and his trademark howls in the title song, and then immediately moves the listener out of complacency and into the intense rockabilly inspired "White Dress". He pays homage to his blues roots with the classic sound of "Please Don't Drop the Bomb" and then surprises yet again with the opening jazzy riffs of "Doin' It". The reggae inspired island beat of "Dancing Move" is reminiscent of UB40. It's as though Hendrix, the Stooges, James Brown, RL Burnside, the Stray Cats, and UB40 all came together in a "best of" blend. This is an eclectic mix that works in the hands of this masterful vocalist.
All I can say is go order this now!