On the heels of a pair of multi-platinum albums and three Grammy Awards, John Mayer has stripped things down to the bone by forming the John Mayer Trio with drummer Steve Jordan (Bruce Springsteen, Rolling Stones) and bassist Pino Palladino (the Who, Jeff Beck). Their groundbreaking sold-out tour is documented on the incredible live album John Mayer Trio Live. The new album includes a live recording from the House of Blue in Chicago and includes both Mayer originals and the Trio's interpretations of cover songs. The album features 11 songs including 'Who Did You Think I Was'. Columbia. 2005.
Longtime listeners have seen it coming: it was only a matter of time before John Mayer dropped the pop star pretense and proved he could really bring it. Chalk it up to one too many Dave Matthews comparisons, or the cupcake-sweet residue stuck to his image after the success of "Your Body Is a Wonderland"--but something convinced Mayer it was time to take him game to the next level. With help from studio pros Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino, he succeeds on Try
. If the muscled-up covers of Jimi Hendrix's "Wait Until Tomorrow" and Ray Charles' "I Got a Woman" don't scream "no more Mr. Nice Guy" loud enough, the brawn of blues-rock opener "Who Do You Think I Was" does for sure. Mixed in with the Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton-esque stuff are a few mellow numbers--"Daughters," most notably, returns from Heavier Things
alongside "Something's Missing"--but even those songs seem hopped up on rock-God hormones. This newfound sizzle can't fix everything; that segment of the music-buying public that would accuse the singer of having a voice like "a whispering midget" (to quote a customer review of Mayer's work) won't want to add this disc to their collection. The good news for Mayer, though, is that anybody with an ear for genuine rock'n'roll chops will. --Tammy La Gorce