In a world where things are almost permanently miserable, MV is starting a campaign this morning. You can sign up somehow too. Basically it’s easy. Everyone, everywhere, should be a little bit more Billy Gibbons.

There’s something about the bloke, that means whenever you hear him/see him, you feel instantly cheered up.

Let me take you back to Wednesday night. It was windy, it was cold, the rain was coming in sideways and I am on the way home from a football (soccer if you want) match. My team had lost – we often do – but this was a particularly big game and a particularly bad performance. On the way home I was listening to “Stomping Ground” and the near title track came on. It starts with a riff that could only could from the Rev Bill. Then that growl. A simple “c’mon Dion” with all the dirty glee in the world. And I smiled. Good lord, I didn’t want to. But I did.  That’s the power of music, I guess.

The presence of rock royalty. Literal legends, that’s nothing new for Dion, obviously. “…..Ground” is a follow up to 2020’s “Blues With Friends” and pretty much exactly the same format. A recap. Dion, essentially, gets a load of proper stars in, gives them parts to play that suit them, and the whole thing rules.

“Take It Back” a blues stormer, has Bonamassa on it (he produces it and its on his record label, so why not?!). The next one is even better, with great respect to JB, G.E Smith joins in on the truly fabulous “Hey Diddle Diddle”. Guitar playing so loose, and chorus so catchy, that it might be the best thing here – and trust me, there is a lot of competition.

So distinctive is Mark Knopfler’s guitar that you know its him even before “Dancing Girl” has reached its first words, laid back, filled with longing. There’s no one quite like him.

And that fact that it fits the lyrics so perfectly tells the greatest truth about this record and why these collaboration albums are better than nearly any other ones. The guests add to the songs, not just appear to lend a name.

There’s a sense of fun in Clapton’s turn “If You Wanna Rock N Roll”,  the wail in “There Was A Time”, featuring Peter Frampton hides a deep sadness, and there’s no one who plays slide like Sonny Landreth. As a hat-trick it could just about be anywhere on this album in truth, so stellar is it.

The changes of tone are much fun too. “The Night Is Young” has a real 80s AOR feel (the US sort) thanks to Joe Menza and Wayne Hood, which is balanced out utterly beautifully by “Just What The Doctor Ordered” on which, the blues has a riot, it really does.

And things just keep coming at you, with no real thread except excellence, Patti and Bruce do their thing on the dark, gospel tinged “Angel In The Alleyways”,  “I’ve Got To Get To You” is a modern take on Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” almost, and Boz Scaggs is top drawer on it, as is Keb Mo’ on the real primal blues of “Red House.”

A real highlight is “I Got My Eyes On You Baby”, drenched in horn (and you an take that in any way you like) as Jimmy Vivino and Marcia Bell star, and the jazz tinges are back with “I’ve Been Watching” as Rickie Lee Jones’ vocals add something extra.

If a sense of fun seems shot through both “…Friends” and this one, then its something Dion recognises too. ““When I was young, I was always striving for accolades and admiration,” [he said] “Those were my goals.  But when I reached them, they didn’t satisfy. I discovered joy when I leaned to stop caring about all that – when I learned to relax and make music with friends… music that would make more friends for us through its joy.  To make music with friends, and to make friends through music: I can’t imagine a better life than this.  I am grateful to my friends who made Stomping Ground with me – and my new friends who are listening.”

The reason “Stomping Ground” works so well is right there, it could have been jams that the artists enjoyed. These are songs for us all.

Rating 9/10