McKenna Mendelson Mainline was one our iconic bands, with famous albums like Stink, Canada-Our Home And Native Land and Bump & Grind Revue-Live at The Victory imprinted in our collective memory. There were many personnel changes over their short lifespan but by the final LP, only Joe Mendelson and Mike McKenna remained. It was now the fall of 1972 and the album was released with little publicity the following year. Mendelson had already released his first solo album and in many ways this can be seen as a second one, but with McKenna adding what is perhaps his best slide work. Longtime producer Adam Mitchell contributes mandolin and background vocals. Mendelson wrote all the songs, plays guitar,’harpmonica’, drums and percussion. There are more players though on what is very much a band album. No one is credited with playing electric bass but it is very prominent. There is also piano on a couple and a f emale backup singer. “Meet You Beat You (At Your Own Game)” is classic Mendelson, his spiky half-spoken lyrics delivered in that unmistakable, gruff voice. “Get To You” is the closest song to the classic Mainline sound and “Give It To Me Straight” is a very good slow blues. It’s clear that a great deal of effort went into this album, maybe all these years later we can give it the place it deserves in the canon. Joe Mendelson would soon become Mendelson Joe and, while continuing to record, would be more famous for his painting. McKenna would soldier on and there was even a Joe-less Mainline reunion for a short while. He is currently part of the re-formed Luke and The Apostles with a new album coming soon on True North. No Substitute’s reissue here means all their albums have now been digitized. Mainline toured briefly with King Biscuit Boy, I don’t know if that was ever recorded but that would surely be very nice to have. Check out www.pacemaker.cd.

John’s Blues Picks April 2017 – Eric Bibb
John’s Blues Picks April 2017 – TG Swampbusters