‘May Be The Last Time’ was conceived in a time of crisis for blues singer and harmonica player John Nemeth. In late May, days after recording the album he underwent surgery in a Houston, Texas, hospital to remove an ameloblastoma, a benign but aggressive tumour, in his lower jaw that threatened his ability to sing and play.
Undeterred by the potentially life changing diagnoses, Nemeth assembled a group of seasoned musicians in Greaseland Studios, California where the eleven tracks that make up the album were laid down in record time.
Opening with The Staples Singers Classic, ‘The Last Time’, Nemeth and band launch the listener into a joyous gospel drenched rendition of the song. Guitarist, Elvin Bishop takes lead vocal on the funky ‘Stealin’ Watermelons’ while Nemeth adds searing harmonica, the rest of the band join on the chorus. Drummer, Willy Jordan joins Nemeth on vocals for a soulful rendition of Wilson Picket’s ‘I Found a Love’, while the whole band join in on a rollicking version of ‘Sexy Ways’ originally made famous by Hank Ballard of the Midnighters.
One thing that’s clear from the recording is that the chemistry between the band members is electric. The music is fun and while songs such as ‘Feeling Good’ and ‘Sooner or Later’ are thought provoking and the subject matter within is as relevant today as they were when written there’s no sense of self-sorrow or finality about the music on the album. In fact, if anything, the music is more a celebration of the time the musicians get to spend together.
Rounding out the album, the Nemeth original, ‘Elbows on The Wheel’ and the Elvin Bishop classic, ‘I’ll Be Glad’, end the music on a note of positivity and optimism.
‘May Be The Last Time’ is a fabulously upbeat blues album that carries an additional burden on it’s shoulders, yet Nemeth and his band soar as musicians leaving the listener in no doubt that John Nemeth will do his utmost to return to making great music as soon as he is fit and able again.
John Nemeth’s family have set up a gofundme page to enable fans of his music to contribute to his ongoing medical costs.