Blues Bytes


May 2015

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John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers - Live in 1967
Forty Below Records

John Mayall

One of the most potent combinations of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers consisted of Mayall (vocals, harmonica, organ) with three future members of Fleetwood Mac: guitarist Peter Green, bass guitarist John McVie, and drummer Mick Fleetwood. Although Green and McVie were both longtime members of the Bluesbreakers, Fleetwood’s tenure was short, so the foursome were only together about three months in early 1967, insufficient time to do a lot of work in the studio, although some tracks with Fleetwood later surfaced on an expanded edition of A Hard Road, the Bluesbreakers’ 1967 studio release.

Fortunately, a Dutch fan (Tom Huissen) was able to sneak a one-channel reel-to-reel tape recorder into Bluesbreakers performances in five different London clubs between February and May of 1967, and was able to capture the band in action. These recordings were basically unheard until recently, when Mayall was able to acquire them and started restoring them with the help of Eric Corne of Forty Below Records. Thanks to their efforts, all blues fans will have an opportunity to hear this wonderful slice of music history on John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967.

Mayall has long been influenced by a pair of blues legends – Otis Rush and Freddy King, and both of these artists are well-represented in this set…..Rush with four songs (“I Can’t Quit You Baby,” “Double Trouble,” “All Your Love,” and “So Many Roads”) and King with four (“Have You Ever Loved A Woman,” “San-Ho-Zay,” “The Stumble,” and “Someday After Awhile”).

Other cover tunes include “Hi Heel Sneakers” and a powerful version of “Stormy Monday” that closes the disc, with some great interplay between Mayall and Green. There are also two Mayall originals represented, the rousing “Brand New Start” and “Streamline.” A lot has been written about Green’s guitar work over the years and many consider him the finest white blues guitarist ever. He does nothing to disprove that statement on these tracks, offering up some exquisite fills and solos throughout.

Green soon left the Bluesbreakers and took McVie and Fleetwood with him to form Fleetwood Mac, who, prior to becoming a pop-rock powerhouse in the mid ’70s/early ’80s, were one of the most respected British blues bands. Mayall forged on with a new group of Bluesbreakers that included future Rolling Stone Mick Taylor on guitar.

Live in 1967 is essential listening to blues rockers of all ages, especially those interested in the British blues scene of the late ’60s.

--- Graham Clarke
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