||JOHN MAYALL'S BLUESBREAKERS
'Live in 1967 Volume 2'
(Forty Below Records)
Release date: 6th May 2016)
A leading figure in the 60s British Blues Boom, keyboard player John Mayall has played the blues for over 50 years, often fronting his own star filled band.
Famously featuring Eric Clapton in the mid 60s (fresh out of the Yardbirds, to concentrate on the Blues), the band went through so many line-up changes they make the Deep Purple family tree look like ABC. John Mayall, and more importantly the Bluesbreakers, were a significant influence on the blues scene to come and an important place in the history of so many noted rock and blues musicians.
This 1967 recording follows on from the first volume issued last year and documents a very short lived line-up (lasting just a few months), that saw guitarist Peter Green, bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwod alongside Mayall, before the formation of Fleetwood Mac, making this an archive released of note and importance.
And from the first listen it's a damn fine album.
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A noted and gifted multi-instrumental (guitar, drums and organ on a range of recordings), Mayall moved to London and by the early 60s was proving successful on the blues scene, including an association with Alexis Korner. By late 1963 his band was called the Bluesbreakers and included bassist John McVie and early guitarists included Bernie Watson and Roger Dean and backed John Lee Hooker on a 1964 tour.
Peter Green briefly replaced Clapton and Jack Bruce replaced McVie. Clapton and McVie returned (and Ginger Baker filled in on a gig or two) but with Cream's formation announced before Mayall had been told Clapton was out again. With guitarist Green returning and drummer Mick Fleetwood coming in, alongside bassist McVie and organist/vocalist John Mayall, the line-up here was cemented.
Effectively a bootleg recording, there is a hiss and muddiness to the sound but from the outset it's more than clear enough to hear just how good the band were.
The set list back then was a rotation of covers (usually blues standards) and new/original songs and while this set features three numbers present on the previous volume, you can see how organic the arrangements were.
The seven minute 'Tears In My Eyes', a Mayall penned number, opens the set and is a real showcase for some blistering blues from Peter Green. The guitar solo work is as sublime as you'd expect. The rhythm section is solid and with every crash, bang, wallop, you can see why they went on together.
'Your Funeral My Trial' is an uptempo number with Mayall blasting out some rockin' harmonica while 'So Many Roads' is a slower track with a steady blues rhythm and some solid guitar on top; sadly the vocals come over a little muddy to make out. 'Bye Bye Bird' picks up the pace again and features some good harmonica, keyboard and guitar interplay.
An essential listen is the eight minute take of 'Stormy Monday', featuring former Serviceman Ronnie Jones on guest vocals; a name fans of the early Blues Incorporated will recognise. And there's no better place to showcase Green's guitar than the Green penned 'Greeny'; the keyboards and guitars mix wonderfully. Toe tapping and head nodding blues for sure.
Some great blues here. The slower to mid paced ones are where Green lets rip over the rhythm section, the faster tracks he riffs and solos in accordance.
Well presented, and an important part of rock and blues history. Outside of the less than perfect recording quality, it's a touch of class.