Live In 1967 Volume Two By John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

January 23, 2017

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This is the follow-up release to Volume one, which was issued a little over a year ago. It may not be as overall strong as that first release but it still does a very credible job in capturing one of John Mayall’s classic line-ups.

Not many albums begin with a fan but back in 1967, a super-fan named Tom Huissen, took his one channel tape recorder to a number of London clubs and recorded Mayal, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood, and John McVie, who would soon leave Mayall and form the original Fleetwood Mac. Over forty years later, Mayall obtained the tapes and two live albums were born.

The music was originally recorded on a one track recorder, so even with modern technology, the sound is only adequate. Green’s guitar dominates the sound with Mayall’s harp a close second. The rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie tend to fade into the background at times. Still, the talent of the band, and particularly Green, manage to shine through.

The 8 minutes plus “So Many Roads” and the instrumental “Greeny” show why Peter Green is considered on the better guitarists of the last half-century. Mayall cranks up his harp on Sonny Boy Williamson’s “Your Funeral and My Trail.” The 7 minute “Tears In My Eyes” is a slow blues ballad and remains one of Mayall’s better original compositions.

A very interesting track is “Stormy Monday,” on which Ronnie Jones of Blues Incorporated sits in and provides the vocal.

This incarnation of Mayall’s Bluesbreakers quickly fell apart, which makes these never before issued tracks a historical treasure. The 70 minutes of music, sound aside, is what British blues were all about.


Live 67 By John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

October 13, 2015

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So who is Tom Huissen and what is he doing in a music review? Back in 1967, he managed to sneak a one channel reel-to-reel tape recorder into not one but five London Bluesbreakers concerts. Nearly fifty years later John Mayall acquired the tapes with the result being the Live In 1967 CD.

Literally over 100 musicians have played with John Mayall throughout the years including such guitar legends as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, and Mick Taylor. 1967 found one of his best configurations with lead guitarist Green, bassist John McVie, and newly added drummer Mick Fleetwood joining Mayall on stage.

The good news is that the music actually exists. These performances were never meant for release, so they should be appreciated as a glimpse into the careers of four musicians who would leave a mark in rock music history. They were one of the Bluesbreakers groups that has gained a lot of fame as the years passed but their time together was short as Green, Fleetwood, and McVie would quickly leave to form Fleetwood Mac, so live material of their time together is extremely rare.

The bad news, as can be guessed, is the sound quality. There is only so much cleaning that can be done with a 48 year old reel-to-reel tape from 1967. Plus, the sound from many small clubs was not very good in the first place. It is basically what it is but one cannot help but think the sound quality gives it an authentic 1967 feel.

The 13 tracks come from three sources. They were still playing music from the Eric Clapton’s Beano album. Green had been a part of the A Hard Road album and his guitar virtuosity drives “The Stumble” and “Someday After Awhile.”

It is the blues covers where the band really shines. They rock through Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Looking Back.” There is a very jazzy version of the old R&B hit “Hi Heel Sneakers.” “Stormy Monday,” “San-Ho-Zay,” and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” all stretch out to over eight minutes and give Green ample room to improvise and prove why he is one of the better guitarists in music history.

Live In 1967 is a rare treat for fans of the electric blues to travel back in time to hear a legendary band at work. It is well-worth the price of admission.

 


Blues Breakers: John Mayall with Eric Clapton

September 26, 2009

Blues Breakers: John Mayall With Eric Clapton is one of the few vinyl albums that I have replaced with the CD version. Yes it’s that good!

Eric Clapton left The Yardbirds in 1965 because he felt they were becoming a pop group rather than continuing in the rhythm & blues direction he preferred. He would serve two short stints as a member of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers in 1965 and 1966. It was a match made in heaven, as Clapton would emerge as one of the most respected guitarists in rock ‘n’ roll.

He would only record one album with Mayall and it would be released after he departed. It would, however, become one of the essential albums in rock/blues history, as he would combine his style and technique to produce sounds that were innovative and new. His smooth and energetic solos helped to define the fusion of rock and blues as it propelled the guitar, as an instrument, into the modern age. Much has been written about his genius of using his Les Paul Gibson guitar with a Marshall amplifier, but it created such a different sound that it opened up the world of guitar playing to all sorts of new possibilities.

When listening to this album you need to focus on Clapton’s guitar and not be sidetracked by Mayall’s vocals which are adequate at best. Bassist John McVie and drummer Hughie Flint are a functional rhythm section and provide a solid foundation for Clapton’s searing solos.

The twelve tracks that formed the original release are a combination of Mayall compositions and blues classics. “Have You Heard” contains the perfect guitar solo. The old Mose Allison tune “Parchment Farm” is just under two and a half minutes of blues bliss. Even the Ray Charles classic “What’d I Say” succumbs to Clapton’s virtuosity. “Ramblin’ On My Mind” is notable for his first recorded lead vocal. The songs that comprise this release are about as close as he would come during his career to emulating the old blues masters that he so revered.

Blues Breakers: John Mayall with Eric Clapton is a perfect guitar album that changed the face of modern music. It would make his short span with The Bluesbreakers well worth the time and effort and provide a link to his next project.

Clapton would always seem to stay within a group setting for a short time and then move on to something else. In this case he would move on to one of the great super groups in rock history.