Coming from Blues, Jazz, R&B, Funk & Soul roots, The Johnny Mac Band feature NY veteran of the scene, guitarist Johnny Mac himself with keyboards from Joe Roberts, the drumming of Raymond Hauck, bass playing of Dave Ice and the vocals and guitar of the 79 year-old, Mohair Sam Wylie. Together they combine the influences of BB King, Ray Charles and others to come up with great originals in their fashion. Traditional in every way, and without sounding too old, Ace is the album for roots lovers and more. A jubilant release with maximum global appeal.
“Makin’ Changes” kicks the CD off with a bang, and it’s the background vocals which come in so quickly that get you right up out of your seat with a solid opener that has everything it takes to set up a great track list. It even reminds of the old Kiki Dee hit “I Got The Music In Me” because of the cerebral chorus.
But that’s just one feeling of reminiscence you get from this song. It’s familiar sounding for all sorts of reason. There’s a lot to be said about it, but it’s best to let it do the talking and get on with the set. And once it’s out of the way, things don’t back pedal one bit.
The next track, “OmBadi” is a very jazzy tune with a Caribbean vibe that just rocks and swings about with all the coolness it can. You just can’t deny the fun, it’s one of those outdoorsy songs with a tribal percussion. This is followed by a 1:07 minute “Om Badi (Reprise)” that fades back in after the original track is over. This comes with the spirit of all the genres they spin. And that is quite a start to be off to. “Soul Angel” follows with a more mainstream, easy listening feel that also works just as well, but on another level. It’s more radio-friendly than the previous tracks.
As the record starts to flow, a ballad comes in the shape of “Part Time Man” which throws a surprise into the mix, because it doesn’t seem a ballad title, but it’s a very frail piece beneath the surface. The track features some excellent singing, snappy drums and an overall soulful guitar solo that simply slices the ears right off. One of the highlights of the disc for sure, with killer chops on display by all.
And it just doesn’t stop, with “5 Reasons To Leave” continuing to blues and rock it up with the best around. And once again the guitar solo smokes with every note he plays on another sizzling cut that comes complete with handclaps.
The production on this CD is also very even and polished with just the right sheen for the variety of tracks, which contains 13 in all. The title track, “Ace” is another slinky guitar-driven monster of a song with everyone turning in equally fine studio performances. Slide-guitar never sounded so good since the Allman Brothers Band. The organ is evenly applied for what turns out to be one of the best tracks on offer. “Goodbye Orlando” offers up a nice mid-tempo track to mellow things down, and the final track “Groove Machine” also stands way out with a pure piece of solid funk rock with a wahwah solo. A must hear.