If John Mayall's voice sounds just a wee bit creaky here and there on A Special Life, it's only to be expected. He's 80, after all, and this is his umpteenth recording in a career that's seen him touring endlessly for over 60 years.
There's absolutely nothing creaky about the music though. Mayall has always known how to pick 'em - as the 'Godfather of British Blues,' he helped launch the careers of Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor in the UK before moving to California and doing much the same for Coco Montoya and Walter Trout.
These days it's Texan Rocky Athas handling the guitar duties, while the rhythm section - bassist Greg Rzab and drummer Jay Davenport - hails from Chicago. They provide muscular, supple support for Mayall, who for the most part sounds surprisingly spry and agile. When he does get a bit craggy, it's usually not a bad thing - his voice has always been somewhat reedy, and the gravitas of age adds a welcome weight to both his words and his delivery.