Posts Tagged ‘John Mayall’

Peter Green was unique and we all miss him. Such a great talent… Forty Below Records: In celebration of Peter Green’s Birthday, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers “Live In 1967”, featuring Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood. Each Volume showcases three John Mayall originals including the opening track, all-time blues classic “Tears In My Eyes”; “Chicago Line”, complete with John McVie bass solo; and “Please Don’t Tell”, a great example of the power blues The Bluesbreakers were revered for. Thanks to dedicated fan Tom Huissen who took his one channel reel-to-reel tape recorder into various London clubs in 1967, these historical performances were captured for all time. Unheard for almost fifty years, John recently obtained these tapes and began restoring them with the technical assistance of Eric Corne of Forty Below Records. Corne adds, “While the source recording was very rough and the final result is certainly not hi-fidelity, it does succeed in allowing us to hear how spectacular these performances are.” It’s truly an exciting glimpse into music history.

On both this and Volume 1 you hear Peter Green play loads of awesome lead guitar and many of these tracks were never recorded in the studio by the Green lineup of the BluesBreakers.
The band were John Mayall vocals, Organ, Harp, Peter Green Guitar, John McVie Bass, Mick Fleetwood Drums.
Sound quality is not 2020 standard but it is very good considering its age and the technology used to make this recordings. I was brought up on Free Live and Peter Greens Fleetwood Mac Live at Boston 1970 so to my ears these Mayall Live recordings are fine sound quality wise. 

Let us be honest this is no hi-fi recording but it absolutely captures what it was like seeing them in a small club; it has all the atmosphere, even the tension, and is certainly good enough to enjoy and hear the performance. 

Buy Online Mick Fleetwood & Friends Celebrate The Music Of Peter Green And The Early Years Of Fleetwood Mac - Super Deluxe Edition Box Set

Legendary drummer, Mick Fleetwood enlisted an all-star cast for a one-of-a-kind concert honouring the early years of Fleetwood Mac and its founder, Peter Green which was held on 25th February 2020 at the London, Palladium.

The bill included Billy Gibbons, David Gilmour, Jonny Lang, Andy Fairweather Low, John Mayall, Christine McVie, Zak Starkey, Steven Tyler, Bill Wyman, Noel Gallagher, Pete Townshend, Neil Finn, Kirk Hammett and many more. Legendary producer Glyn Johns joined as the executive sound producer and the house band featured Fleetwood himself along with Andy Fairweather Low, Dave Bronze and Ricky Peterson.

Fleetwood, who curated the list of artists performing, said: “The concert is a celebration of those early blues days where we all began, and it’s important to recognize the profound impact Peter and the early Fleetwood Mac had on the world of music.

Peter was my greatest mentor and it gives me such joy to pay tribute to his incredible talent. I am honoured to be sharing the stage with some of the many artists Peter has inspired over the years and who share my great respect for this remarkable musician. ‘Then Play On’…”

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Arguably, no bandleader in modern history has attracted more sterling guitarists to his line up than John Mayall. During the ’60s and ’70s, Mayall hired and shaped some of the most distinguished axemen of all time, including Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Jon Mark and Harvey Mandel. In a frenzied, fourteen month period, between 1966 and ’67, Mayall released the seminal “Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton” album, followed by “A Hard Road”, which showcased the string-bending talents of Peter Green right before he formed Fleetwood Mac, chased by “Crusade” , which introduced the world to later Rolling Stones’ guitar wiz Mick Taylor.

And it’s not just guitarists who are drawn into Mayall’s orbit. In addition his ever-shifting bands have included such vaunted bass players as John McVie, Jack Bruce, Andy Fraser and Tony Reeves, while, on drums, he nurtured the classic stickmen Mick Fleetwood, Aynsley Dunbar, Keef Hartley and Jon Hiseman. To boot, he provided early showcases for British sax icon Dick Heckstall-Smith and fusion violin pioneer Don “Sugarcane” Harris.

“I guess I’ve got good taste,” said Mayall, with a laugh. He’s also got longevity. At 83, Mayall still tours widely and puts out albums, including a crisp and toned new one, Talk About That

John Mayall Talk About That

The music on the album honors, and reemphasizes, the star’s more than half century devotion to the blues. Two cuts feature contributions by Joe Walsh. “Apparently, it was on [Joe’s] bucket list to play with me,” Mayall said. “I didn’t know his qualifications as a blues guitarist, to be honest. But he fit right in. He was only with us a few hours but it was a magical experience.”

Much the same could be said of Mayall’s many collaborators over the years. Few of them tarried long in his band, but each left an indelible impression. After more than half a century of talent scouting, it’s high time to celebrate everything John Mayall did with, and for, the star musicians he nurtured.

If you ask Mayall what he brought to all these axemen in their formative phases, he’ll answer with one word: freedom. “If I hire somebody to play with me, I’m hiring them because I love their playing,” he said. “I don’t want to usurp that by saying ‘you must play this and you can’t play that.’ I gave them the freedom to help them develop their own style.”

Mayall’s age helped him assume that mentor role convincingly. He was already thirty when he got his first record contract and began his storied hiring spree. His father had also been a guitarist and jazz fan, though John leaned closer to the blues as a teen after hearing artists like Lead Belly and Pinetop Smith. Armed with a guitar and a harmonica, Mayall played in blues bands during his time at the Manchester College of Art. Years later, the visual flair he honed at school would allow him to design some of his early album covers. In 1962, Mayall formed the group Blues Syndicate, mixing that genre with jazz, a balance inspired by Alexis Korner’s band. Korner convinced Mayall to move to London where, in 1963, he formed his first version of the Bluesbreakers, featuring John McVie on bass. Mayall himself sang lead vocals and played rhythm guitar. The group secured gigs at the Marquee Club, which led to a contract with Decca Records. In 1964, Mayall’s band received an amazing opportunity—to back John Lee Hooker on a British tour of clubs and festivals. “We learned a lot from playing with him,” Mayall said. “The first thing we noticed was that, where all the English bands were playing as loudly as they could, there was a different dynamic from the American blues greats. From them, we learned all about dynamics and volume.”

Mayall believes that the British and European musicians had more respect for the roots players than their American brethren did back then. “There were two separate societies in America at the time because of the color bar,” he said. “When the black jazz and blues musicians came over here they were treated like Gods. So it was inevitable that Europeans would eventually come to the blues line of work themselves.”

While some accused the British players of ripping off American blues stars, in fact they brought a different level of velocity, virtuosity and abstraction to the form. Essentially, they applied the expansions of free jazz to the chord structures of the blues. “Everybody found their own style within that structure,” Mayall said.

John Mayall Plays John Mayall

Not that the older generation in the music industry understood what these young bucks were doing. Mayall says his label, Decca, hadn’t a clue what he was up to on his debut work, John Mayall Plays John Mayall a live album released in 1965. On the disc, he sang and played harmonica, organ and 9 string guitar, while Roger Dean served as the band’s first lead guitarist. “Decca washed their hands of me after that first album,” the musician said. “It didn’t sell well enough for their executives. But Mike Vernon, the producer, talked to them and, they thought, ‘if it’s okay with Mike, then.. Still, things might not have been okay for long had Mayall not made a crucial change in his band that year. On the small London music scene, he had heard buzz about a young guitarist in the band The Yardbirds—one Eric Clapton. At first, Mayall wasn’t interested. When The Yardbirds made that first big single, “For Your Love” it didn’t impress me very much,” Mayall said. “But it had a B-side, “Got To Hurry” which was an instrumental. That was the thing that knocked me out.”As it turned out, Clapton felt much the same way. He hated the pop direction of “For Your Love” enough to ditch the band. “I approached him to see if he wanted to join my band,” Mayall said. “All we were doing was playing blues and that’s exactly what Eric wanted.”

Clapton replaced the departed Roger Dean and the refigured band began to cut their teeth in the London clubs. Unfortunately, Clapton proved to be a mercurial soul, prone to moodiness and hard to control. Mere months after cutting some sides with the Bluesbreakers, he announced he was running off to play with a bunch of virtual amateur musicians he had met in a group called The Glands. The unflappable Mayall told Clapton he could always come back if he changed his mind. In the meantime, the band leader subbed in another promising young, blues-obsessed guitarist from the scene: Peter Green. By November of ’65 Clapton came to his senses, pushing Green out. The next year the reconstituted band recorded that first Bluesbreakers release, an instant classic. Mayall said he considered the album just “a nice opportunity to go into the studio and put down what we were doing live. We never realized it would have the success that it did.”

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Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton

‘Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton’ shot to to No. 6 on the U.K. Top Ten. The material on it included some original pieces by Mayall, who played keyboards and sang on the album. But mainly the repertoire emphasized covers of blues songs by artists like Otis Rush, Mose Allison and Little Walter. Clapton’s solos dominated the disc, fully earning the star billing he received on the cover. It was Mayall’s idea to highlight his impeccable contribution right on the album sleeve.

The album struck such a deep chord with the public, it inspired that famous graffiti scrawl in London, “Clapton Is God.” It also set the template for all the rock guitar heroes to come over the next decade. Some fans believe ‘Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton’ contains the most fiercely emotive work of the guitarist’s career. At the time of its release, however, Clapton had already met bassist Jack Bruce who, together with drummer Ginger Baker, had a notion for new kind of band—a power trio. Clapton formed that group Cream without telling Mayall, who found out the way everyone else did—by reading about it the music press.  One can hear the very direct influence of Buddy Guy and a handful of other American bluesmen in the playing. And lest anyone forget the rest of the quartet: future pop/rock superstar John McVie and drummer Hughie Flint provide a rock-hard rhythm section, and Mayall’s organ playing, vocalizing, and second guitar are all of a piece with Clapton’s work. His guitar naturally dominates most of this record, and he can also be heard taking his first lead vocal, but McVie and Flint are just as intense and give the tracks an extra level of steel-strung tension and power, none of which have diminished across several decades.

Remarkably, Mayall considered the surprise defection of his star attraction no big deal. “It was inevitable,” he said. “Eric and Jack wanted to do something different and Ginger Baker was there to talk them into it. From my point of view, this has always been simple. If somebody left the band, I found a replacement. And it seemed there was always somebody out there that I’d like to work with. As a bandleader I had the privilege to hire anybody I wanted.”

Mayall rallied by asking the 20 year old Peter Green to come back to the fold one year after he’d been shown the door. “He was a bit reluctant to trust that this job would be reliable,” the bandleader said. “Peter had the opportunity to work with The Animals and go to America. But because of his love of the blues, he decided he’d rather play in my band.”

John Mayall Bluesbreakers A Hard Road

Again, the chance to stick with pure blues became Mayall’s selling point for his young players. The result paid off with another Top Ten album, the critically hailed ‘A Hard Road,’ out in February of ’67. It featured two songs written by Green, and two sung by him. Green had a more economical style than Clapton, with a tone so sweet, B.B. King later said that it brought him to tears. Original pieces dominated ‘A Hard Road,’ most of them written by Mayall. As with Clapton, Green only remained with Mayall for a year, but when he left, he inspired a major defection, taking with him then drummer Mick Fleetwood—and bassist John McVie not soon after. Together, they formed Fleetwood Mac.

Even with so with another huge a blow to his band, Mayall kept an even-keel. It helped that he soon ferreted out another six-string master—18 year old Mick Taylor. Finding three such amazing players in a row makes Mayall seem like the brains behind Menudo, an act which subbed in new kids every time one got too old. Only in Mayall’s band, age wasn’t a factor and every young guitarist he hired turned out to be a genius.

John Mayall Crusade

The reborn band’s debut, ‘Crusade,” released in September of ’67, followed its predecessors path by shooting straight into the U.K. Top Ten. The music found Taylor in a commanding position. “He has a very elegant sound,” Mayall said. “He was more jazz influenced than Peter or Eric. but no one sounds like Mick, even today.”

The final album of an (unintentional) trilogy, Crusade is most notable for the appearance of a very young, pre-Rolling Stones Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Taylor’s performance is indeed the highlight, just as Eric Clapton and Peter Green’s playing was on the previous albums. The centerpiece of the album is a beautiful instrumental by Taylor titled “Snowy Wood,” which, while wholly original, seems to combine both Green and Clapton’s influence with great style and sensibility.

While it seems amazing that Mayall surfed so smoothly through all these fast changes, brisk switch-up weren’t at all unusual in the ’60s or early ’70s. The culture itself was moving at warp speed. Each year brought a whole new look, sound, and sensibility to the culture. The tender age of Mayall’s proteges also played a part. “They hadn’t much experience in playing,” he said. “They were in the process of finding their own style and finding out what they wanted to do in music. Being with my band helped them to develop rather more quickly than they might have done otherwise.”

“When one looks back you can see that speed,” of the changes, Mayall said. “But when you’re involved in it, you’re just doing a job, playing seven or eight gigs a week. You don’t have time to notice the big picture.”

John Mayall Bare Wires

To momentarily stave off more changes, Mayall pulled a fast one himself. He cut his next album The Blues Alone nearly entirely himself, penning all the songs and playing all the instruments save the one manned by drummer Keef Hartley. The album contains a rare example of Mayall playing lead guitar. It didn’t pay off commercially, but the bandleader rebounded strongly on 1968’s Bare Wires, his first album to crack the U.S. charts (reaching No. 59). “Wires” devoted a full side to a single suite, gave new reign to Taylor’s fluid guitar and provided a showcase for saxist extraordinaire Dick Heckstall-Smith.  The album began with a 23-minute “Bare Wires Suite,” which included more jazz influences than usual and featured introspective lyrics. In retrospect, all of this is a bit indulgent, but at the time it helped Mayallout of what had come to seem a blues straitjacket (although he would eventually return to a strict blues approach). It isn’t surprising that he dropped the “Bluesbreakers” name after this release.

Blues From Laurel Canyon (Remastered)

‘Wires’ marked the final album credited to the band name Bluesbreakers, but that wasn’t the strongest break Mayall made at that time. Late in ’68, he left England to take up full time residence in what was then the newest hotbed of musical creativity—Laurel Canyon. While that locale gave rise to the whole singer-songwriter renaissance, as well as to the CSNY axis of creativity, Mayall says he didn’t participate much in the scene. “The only person I met there was Frank Zappa,” he said. “But I fell in love with the place. It was everything I hoped America would be.”

Turning Point,

Mayall trumpeted that love on Blues From Laurel Canyon, a seamless work which ran all the songs together in rootsy reverie. Soaking up the mellow L.A. atmosphere had an even greater impact on his next album, aided by a key loss. In June of ’69 Taylor bolted to replace the just-deceased Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones. The jolt brought out something revolutionary in Mayall. For his next work—the aptly named The Turning Point.

Mayall ditched high-octane, top volume blues for an acoustic-based band that featured no drummer. “I just got tired of the same instrumentation,” the bandleader said. “With a drummer-less band, there are more dynamics and no one gets drowned out. People who heard about the album were very skeptical. Promoters were horrified that they were booking a band that had no drums. But I went ahead anyway.”

Mayall had key help from folk guitarist Jon Mark. A sensitive player, Mark had previously been part of an overlooked gem of a band, Sweet Thursday, which included piano wiz Nicky Hopkins and future Cat Stevens collaborator Alun Davies. For the new project, Mayall amped up the role of a sax and flute player he’d already collaborated with: Johnny Almond. Mayall’s inspiration for the radical project was the record The Train and The River by Jimmy Guiffry, which featured just guitar and sax. To nail the immediacy of his new approach, Mayall cut ‘The Turning Point’ live at The Fillmore East. One song, Room To Move became an FM staple, prized for its brisk rhythm and wild mouth-organ flourishes.

Empty Rooms

In this incarnation, the group put out one studio album, 1969’s Empty Rooms, Immediately afterwards, Mark and Almond broke off to form their own acoustic-jazz group, inventively named The Mark-Almond Band. Some thought they ran off with Mayall’s idea but the magnanimous bandleader prefers to view MAB simply as “a continuation” of the style. Either way, the defection paved the way for yet another creative leap, this one involving the dexterous guitarist Harvey Mandel (late of Canned Heat) and fusion violinist Don “Sugarcane” Harris. The latter had made key contributions to Frank Zappa’s Hot Rats as well as to great Mothers’ albums like Weasels Ripped My Flesh The new band issued USA Union in 1970, pushing the sound deeper into jazz while retaining the drummer-less motif. “For me, jazz and blues have always been intertwined,” Mayall said. “There’s no dividing line.”

Back to the Roots

As a perfect capper for Mayall’s classic era, he released Back To The Roots. in 1971, a work which briefly reunited him with Clapton, Taylor, Almond, and other great players from his past. Mayall says he has maintained good relationships with all of his starry graduates of his group in all the years since. Taylor, for one, has often returned to play with him. The bandleader harbors no jealousy for the successes his proteges have achieved with other bands, most of them far greater than his own. Mayall’s insistence on sticking with the blues, rather than moving into more pop friendly sounds, accounts for the disparity. He believes he had no choice in that. “Blues is the only thing I know how to play,” he said.

Over the past few decades, Mayall’s blues-rooted bands have given platforms to other significant, if less celebrated, guitarists, including Coco Montoya, Walter Trout and Buddy Whittington. His current band has no lead axeman at all, the better to let the three players shine. At 83, Mayall still tours 100 days of the year and records regularly. The latest album ranks as his 41st. “There’s never a shortage of ideas,” he said. “I just love music, and so I always want to explore it.

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July 22nd 1966 saw the release of what has become the greatest British blues albums of them all, John Mayall Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton. It was the first studio album and the second overall credited to John Mayall, who teamed up for the first time in a studio release with the ex- Yardbirds Eric Clapton.

It is also known as The Beano Album because of its cover photograph showing Clapton reading The Beano a British children’s comic. Clapton stated in his autobiography that he was reading The Beano on the cover because he felt like being “uncooperative” during the photo shoot

The album set the benchmark for all blues albums that followed, cemented by Clapton’s explosive guitar tone thanks to the majestic bonding between a Gibson guitar and a Marshall amplifier. Not only is it the greatest British blues album but it’s also one of the great albums of all time, period. Recorded April 1966 at Decca Studios West Hampstead, London.

The guitar that Eric Clapton used during these sessions was a sunburst 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard with two PAF humbucking Pickups . This guitar (which was stolen in 1966; its whereabouts remain unknown) is also called the “Blues Breaker” or “Beano” Les Paul and a replica of which was reissued by Gibson in 2012. 

The band on this album includes Mayall on piano, Hammond organ, harmonica and most vocals; bassist John McVie drummer Hughie Flint and Clapton. Augmenting the band on this album was a horn section added during post-production.

The album opens with the Otis Rush number “All Your Love”, a cracking way to begin. The song manages to capture everything great about the Bluesbreakers from John Mayall’s unique vocals, Clapton’s explosive guitar, McVie’s pounding bass and Flint’s driving rhythm that is the back bone of the entire song. It’s followed by “Hideaway” which has arguably become the standard version of the song, the original of course being by the late great Freddie King who Clapton was hugely influenced by at the time. Even though it’s a song largely dominated by Clapton’s guitar, the entire band shine brightly and showcase their abilities as Britain’s premier and best British blues band. The first Mayall penned track comes next in “Little Girl”. Apart from Mayall’s vocals, Clapton again takes centre stage with a blistering guitar solo over the ruthless rhythm section of John McVie and Hugh Flint, both of which really take this song to another level. “Another Man” is pure Mayall drenched with some of the best harmonica playing you’ll ever hear.

Things then slow down a tad with “Double Crossing Time”a fantastic number written by Mayall and Clapton. It’s a wonderful slow blues which clocks in at just over three minutes in length which is the only downside as you feel it deserves to go on for at least another few minutes. The opening riff of “What’d I Say”, originally by Ray Charles, is next and this particular version remains one of the most exciting ever recorded. Mayall gives one of his best vocal performances and it’s the first time on the album so far where you’re able to bask in the magnificence of Hugh Flint’s drumming, as he plays a superb solo section halfway through the song. The rest of the band then return with a Day Tripper-esque riff to bring the song to a close. Next up is “Key To Love” which is another Mayall original. Flint is an abs0lute force of nature with some of the best drumming you’ll ever hear, and Clapton returns for another ear drum attacking guitar solo.

The great “Parchman Farm” comes next which was originally recorded by Bukka White in 1940 and then covered by a host of musicians including Mose Allison, Johnny Winter, Bobbie Gentry and Hot Tuna to name just a few. Mayall is a man possessed on harmonica here, arguably giving his finest musical performance of the entire album. The slow blues number “Have You Heard” then takes things in a slower direction, at least at first. When it comes to electric guitar solos this song certainly contains one of the finest ever recorded with Clapton showing exactly why the nickname “God” was so fitting. The things he managed to do with a guitar during this song are second to none in my opinion, firmly placing him as the greatest British blues guitarist of all time.

“Ramblin’ On My Mind” remains to this day as one of Robert Johnson’s most well known songs, helped by the legendary status of this version featuring Clapton on lead vocals. And it’s the fact that Clapton took lead vocal duties on this song that made it so legendary, after all this is the first time he ever sang lead on a song. Even though he used to sing backing vocals with The Yardbirds it’s a strong vocal performance with guitar accompaniment including a tasty solo, backed up by Mayall on piano. It’s probably the most pure blues song of the whole album and a song that opened up Clapton both vocally and musically, as he would go on to call Robert Johnson one of his main influences and as a eventually record Me & Mr. Johnson, a tribute album to his idol, in 2004. “Steppin’ Out” is the second guitar lead instrumental after Hideaway and a song Clapton would continue playing with Cream up until their final active year in 1968. It’s a superb number with Clapton yet again showcasing his guitar abilities fantastically. The final song is “It Ain’t Right” which sees the album end on a wonderful note. Originally recorded by Little Walter, Mayall lays down some fine harmonica while the rest of the band hit hard like a freight train. A perfect way to end the album.

Original album

Side one

  1. All Your Love” (Otis Rush) – 3:38
  2. Hideaway” (Freddie King/Sonny Thompson) – 3:17
  3. “Little Girl” (Mayall) – 2:36
  4. “Another Man” (Mayall) – 1:47
  5. “Double Crossing Time” (Clapton/Mayall) – 3:04
  6. What’d I Say” (Ray Charles) – 4:28

Side two

  1. “Key to Love” (Mayall) – 2:08
  2. Parchman Farm” (Mose Allison) – 2:22
  3. “Have You Heard” (Mayall) – 5:56
  4. Ramblin’ on My Mind” (Robert Johnson) – 3:08
  5. Steppin’ Out” (L. C. Frazier) – 2:30
  6. It Ain’t Right” (Little Walter) – 2:45

Overall it’s a faultless album, A considerd Classic album. Not only do you get to witness the evolution of Eric Clapton but you get to listen to British blues at it’s very finest. The band as a whole were fantastic. John Mayall, Eric Clapton, John McVie, Hugh Flint.

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