May Be the Last Time
Nola Blue Records
Publicity: Blind Raccoon
Release Date: September 16, 2022
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro © August 2022
With about a dozen or so albums to his credit, absolutely none of them were released under such bizarre circumstances. As most of you already know, John Németh is currently facing not only a career altering situation but a life altering one as well. In his own words, here is what was on his mind at the time of its release… “I recorded this album before my jaw amputation surgery, which took place in late May. It’s called May Be the Last Time because I didn’t know then and I still don’t know, if I will ever sing or play again like I used to. I have to say, the magic of this performance is beyond this world and maybe the greatest of my life.” John Németh.
Once word of this situation spread to the music community, a bunch of musicians did what musicians do in situations like this – they circled the wagons and came to the aid of a friend. Enter Kid Andersen, who not only recorded and produced the project in his Greaseland Studio but handpicked a handful of legends to help out as well. That said, on May Be the Last Time, John Németh – on vocals and harp – is joined by: Elvin Bishop on lead & rhythm guitar, and vocals; Bob Welsh on electric/acoustic/baritone guitars, and piano; Willy Jordan on cajon, drums and percussion; and of course, Kid on upright bass, Fender bass, bass guitar, and lead & rhythm guitar. Additionally, Alabama Mike helped Willy, Kid and Bob out on the group vocals. Along with a few originals from John and Elvin, the albums’ eleven tracks also include a handful of classic covers.
The disc opens with John, Elvin and Kid’s arrangement – or maybe even disarrangement – of the traditional “The Last Time” and trust me, there is nothing traditional about it. For those of you who may now be trying to recall The Staple Singers or the Rolling Stones renditions, don’t even bother. Sounding like a Gospel song being done by a jug band, this one features John singing about a very long list of real and humorous things he may be doing for the last time, while being backed up by the sometimes melodic and sometimes hysterical group vocals. Musically, thanks to Kid and the upright bass, it features profound rhythm and smokin’ harp leads from John – playing like it just may be the last time.
Although it wasn’t, this song could have very well been written for John and his current situation. It’s the Elvin Bishop Band classic from 1972 that features John feeling like he’s hit “Rock Bottom” (J. Baker/E.Bishop). As the lyrics go “you talk about the lowdown blues, I got ’em. I do believe I’ve hit rock bottom.” On the other hand, hearing him belt this one out and blowin’ the hell out of the harp totally negates that frame of mind. More great rhythm being pounded out by Willy and the Kid, and fabulous guitar and piano leads from Elvin and Bob.
If asked, what would you say you spend a lot of money on? Never mind! Because whatever your answer would have been it would have something to do with “Feeling Good”. As J. B. Lenoir said, “All the money in the world’s spent on feeling good.” I dare you to argue with that. Contrary to what may have been on his mind while singing it, John certainly sounds like he’s feeling good on this one. Also sounding good are the deep bass lines, the percussion and the lead guitar work from Kid, Willy and Bob.
On the soul classic “I Found a Love” (W. Pickett/W. Schofield/R. West), John testifies as to why he’s a winner – and habitual nominee – in the “Soul Blues” categories at various awards presentations. Of course, this being a duet with Willy Jordan did take the song to a whole other level. When you do a song of this caliber, I don’t think making it your own should ever come into play and apparently neither do Willy and John. This was done exactly the way Wilson Pickett did it back in the sixties – PERFECTLY! I’m sure the masterful way the guys are hitting and holding those high notes have him smiling right now. I gotta say it: WOW!
On one of his originals titled “Elbows on The Wheel” John tells of the day when his wife decided that his singing just wasn’t enough to pay the bills and suggested – to use a gentle word – that since he was a good driver, he should get a day job driving a truck. That said, while listening to the group vocals it sounds more like he got a day job driving a school bus. This one is hilarious.
Over the years – especially during the sixties and seventies – there have been many songs that use the name of a dance in the title, with the lyrics instructing you on how to do the dance. There was Chubby Checker telling us how to do “The Twist”; there was Joey Dee and the Starliters telling us how to do “The Peppermint Twist”, there was Little Eva telling us how to do “The Locomotion”; and amongst many others, there was one by Van McCoy telling us to do “The Hustle”. Why there was even one by a blues artist telling you how to “Shake Your Hips” – or as Slim Harpo would have actually said – “do the hip shake baby”. Now as much as the thought of these guys telling me how to do the twist, the locomotion or the hustle, quite honestly scares me, I gotta admit, they can tell me how to shake my hips anytime they want. The guys nailed it on this dance floor filler.
With some of the opening verse of this one being “Bad luck hit me like a brick in the head. Anybody else, it would have killed them dead. They say it don’t kill you it will make you strong…” It’s another Elvin Bishop song that again seems appropriate for John to now be singing. It is titled “I’ll Be Glad” (E. Bishop/R. L. Cochran) as in “I’ll be glad when I get my groove back again.” You will John, just keep on hanging in there.
Other tracks on this future nominated release include: another John Nemeth original titled “Sooner Or later”: another Elvin Bishop original titled “Stealin’ Watermelons”; the Hank Ballard classic “Sexy Ways”; and another classic made famous by Junior Wells titled “Come On In This House” (M. London).
By the way, an update on the one sheet states that the procedures John has done to date have been successful and from what I’m reading on social media and hearing from mutual friends, his recovery is coming along nicely. In closing I’d like to say best wishes from the House of Blewzz, John.
To find out more about John Németh, just go to www.johnnemeth.com. Remember, whomever you contact, please tell them their friend the Blewzzman sent you.
“The Blues Is My Passion And Therapy“
Peter “Blewzzman” Lauro
Blues Editor @ www.Mary4Music.com
2011 “Keeping The Blues Alive” Award Recipient