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September 2022

John Németh
May Be The Last Time
Nola Blue Records

John Nemeth

The title of John Németh's newest album, May Be The Last Time, on Nola Blue Records, tells a lot about the reason for this particular album. Because of an upcoming operation on his jaw that may prevent Németh from singing and playing harmonica in the future, he gathered Elvin Bishop and his bandmates and Alabama Mike to join him at the Greaseland studios for this stirring album engineered by Kid Andersen. The result is perhaps the best blues album any of us will hear this year, making it potentially a bittersweet release that we should enjoy while we have it.

Németh and company start with the title cut, their version of the gospel standard, "The Last Time," with some lyrics changed to suit the occasion. Németh packs plenty of emotion into his vocals here, as he does on all of the cuts, delivering  a very stirring and emotional three and a half minutes. Up next is one of three Bishop originals, "Rock Bottom," a rollicking up-tempo shuffle, and then Németh reflects on his life and uncertain future on his own "Sooner Or Later," singing lines like "... Good luck can't last ..." and "... Play with fire and you might get burned ..."

The J.B. Lenoir classic, "Feeling Good," is given a touch of gospel as Németh sings about "... All the money in the world spent of feeling good ..." Bishop steps to the mic for his own "Stealin' Watermelons," followed by a breathtaking version of Wilson Pickett's "I Found A Love," with Németh sharing vocals with Willy Jordan, highlighted by harmonica from Németh and emotional shouting vocals.

The band has a lot of fun with the Hank Ballard number, "Sexy Ways," an up-tempo shuffle, before slowing the pace for the Junior Wells straight blues, "Come On In This House," with Németh blowing the harp like never before. Bob Welsh stars on piano on the quintessential driving song, "Elbows On The Wheel," one that Németh earlier recorded on his Memphis Grease album.

If you are like me you are always open to hearing more Slim Harpo songs being covered, so their version of "Shake Your Hips" is an up-tempo floorshaker. Closing the session is a feelgood Bishop composition, "I'll Be Glad," ending the album with a hope for better days.

Get this album, please. Buy a CD at your local music store, order it from your preferred online retailer, or download a digital copy. However you choose to add May Be The Last Time to your collection is your choice, but trust me when I say you will want to have this album. Let's all think positive thoughts for John Németh as he goes through this life-threatening ordeal, and hope that the title of the album doesn't come true.

--- Bill Mitchell



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