British blues pioneer John Mayall briefly teams up with American blues archetype John Lee Hooker on this agreeable session, but you have to pay close attention to a couple of tracks in order to appreciate the cross-Atlantic alliance. Long past his prime as a singer, Hooker is briefly cast here as guitarist on "Somebody's Watching" and "Bad Dream Catcher," tunes that benefit from the boogie man's unmistakably spare and spooky touch.
Jazz and pop saxophonist Ernie Watts also appears up on the album, adding some funky lines to the Santana-like groove created by guitarist Buddy Whittington on the opening cut, "Don't Turn Your Back." Another small cameo is reserved for Mayall's former guitarist Coco Montoya, who helps keep "The Strip," Mayall's remembrance of his early visits to the West Coast, from sounding purely nostalgic.
The remainder of the album is pretty much what we've come to expect from Mayall in recent years: solid, if hardly great, songs that sometimes make reference to his personal history; a lean mix of electric and acoustic arrangements; and a band that sounds tuned into the music its leader has championed for two generations and countless recordings.
Appearing Wednesday at Jaxx with the Fallen Angels. To hear a free Sound Bite from John Mayall, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)