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EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Mayall: A Special Life

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Redoubtable and self-motivated as ever Just shy of his eightieth birthday, John Mayall recorded an album with his current band late in 2013 that suggests in no uncertain terms he remains as potent a blues musician as the members of his group merely half his age. He titled A Special Life with the same knowing understatement he writes, plays and sings (and renders the cover art as well). That's not to say there's much profound in the material itself, but only that the longevity of the man known as the 'Godfather of British Blues' imparts a significance to ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall: Live in London

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Though John Mayall doesn't deign to call the unit that collaborates with him on Live in London “The Bluesbreakers," his current band is arguably as tight and sympathetic as any ensemble that's sported the moniker in the recent past. Fusing bassist Greg Rzab, drummer Jay Davenport and guitarist Rocky into a fluid ensemble, The Godfather of British Blues elicits versatility from this stripped- down instrumental lineup, opening with vocals, harp and some piano on “Another Man." It's just the first inkling of how Mayall works with sparse arrangements for the sake of simplicity, not lack of ideas. One ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall: Tough

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John Mayall looks alternately dignified and defiant in the photos that adorn Tough. The music, however, is permeated with a consistent resolve. Displaying his usual emotionalism, the Godfather of British Blues offers an album largely comprised of covers recorded with an almost entirely new band.

The wisdom of his concept(s) becomes apparent on the very first track, “Nothing to Do with Love." This atmospheric number features not just the familiar wail of Mayall's harmonica, but the lead guitar of Rocky Athas--the latest in a string of guitar prodigies Mayall has discovered over the years. The Texas native makes a case ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Another Palace, Another King: John Mayall in Cologne

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John Mayall Die Kantine Koln, GermanyMay 12, 2009 Sometimes a mix of the old and the new is a formula yielding timelessness. The latest soulful and rollicking incarnation of John Mayall and his blues-based sidekicks, assembled just a few months back, reportedly assures a new album due out this fall. If this current lineup--Rocky Athas (guitar), Greg Rzab (bass), Jay Davenport (drums), and Tom Canning (keyboard)--manages to capture even half the energy and expertise it laid out for a swinging swarm of devotees in Koln, the prolific, long-running, 75-year-old Mayall should have some ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

John Mayall: Live at The Marquee 1969 & The Masters

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John Mayall had a reputation for being a rebel long before 1969. How else to explain his single-minded devotion to the blues in the face of Beatlemania? Still, in dispensing with a drummer and including no lead electric guitarist in the band he formed for The Turning Point (Polydor, 1969), Mayall was going against the very grain of the blues movement he had helped to establish alongside his illustrious sequence of lead guitarists--Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor.

John Mayall Live at The Marquee 1969 Eagle Records 2008

Reaffirmed by dint of the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers: In the Palace of the King

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Ostensibly a tribute to the late Freddie King, this CD also serves admirably as a showcase of John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers themselves. The band displays both versatility and finesse on a combination of covers by the Texas guitarist as well as two originals. Meanwhile their front man exhibits his usual authority as a band leader, while at the same time demonstrating enough humility to pay righteous homage to a kindred spirit of the blues.

Mayall's pleasure in playing and singing is palpable on “You Know That You Love Me, and if that track, or “Living on the Highway, is ...

LIVE REVIEWS

John Mayall/Al Kooper Live in Albany, N.Y.

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John Mayall Quartet and Al Kooper Funk Faculty Band The Egg Albany, N.Y. April 21, 2007

Legendary British Bluesman John Mayall is still going strong at the age of 73, still preaching the gospel of the blues with all the energy and cleverness one has grown to expect over the decades. On his latest tour, which stopped at the Egg in Albany, N.Y. on April 21, he's saluting another blues icon, guitarist Freddie King, who died over 30 years ago at the young age of 46, but not before influencing many who came after ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall (selected by): Picking the Blues: Pioneers of Boogie Woogie

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Veteran English blues performer John Mayall's “reminiscences" here aren't “of great blues figures" but of encounters, often via recordings, of the very best barrelhouse, blues and boogie woogie piano music. Barrelhouse piano combined various different proportions of blues, ragtime and dance rhythms in the hands of technically unorthodox players. Jelly Roll Morton spoke of “specialists --each with a tiny repertoire nobody else could play. Bang on! Cow Cow Davenport also recorded ragtime, but “Cow Cow Blues" is a classic of shifting pace and boogie rhythm. “Jump Steady Blues" is Pinetop Smith's recorded masterpiece. His ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall: Essentially John Mayall

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Essentially John Mayall, a five-CD box set, is not mere nostalgia. Rather, like most anthologies devoted to the Father of British Blues, it supplies a historically accurate focus on his career by setting his most recent work in relief against earlier recordings. In doing so it reaffirms his virtues as bandleader, composer, musician and talent scout.

Four of these CDs comprise Mayall's work of recent vintage for Eagle Records, which does full justice to the legacy of the Bluesbreakers moniker. Stories emphasizes the man's songwriting strengths and includes “Mists of Time, one of the most memorable tunes in his discography. ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Rockin' Blues Revue: John Mayall / Robben Ford / Eric Bibb

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Rockin' Blues Revue Flynn Performing Arts Center Burlington, Vermont November 16, 2005

The Rockin' Blues Revue that appeared on the Flynn Performing Arts Center's main stage on November 16 evoked a hearty response from blues fans and guitar hero-worshippers alike. Yet before the comparatively short show was over, the packaging of the three artists together did as much to accentuate the respective shortfalls of the presentation as illustrate the diversity of styles that reside within the genre of the blues.

Early in his introductory set, Eric Bibb recalled a young Taj Mahal and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers: Road Dogs

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During the course of his forty-year career, John Mayall has endured some fallow periods, but the British-born bluesman put himself into a creative stride when he renamed his band the Bluesbreakers back in 1984. Using the name which had gained such fame when including Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, and John McVie, among others, this seemingly cosmetic change brought Mayall to an elevated level of creativity that continues to this day, in the form of a brand new, self-produced studio album with his current lineup.

Mayall and his band excel on Road Dogs through a range of styles. With ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

John Mayall: The Godfather of British Blues/The Turning Point

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John Mayall's legacy as a legendary figure in blues music in general, not just in Britain, was well-established before the end of the sixties. By the time 1969 arrived, he had enlisted, collaborated with and seen move on, the likes of Eric Clapton, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Mick Taylor (among others), all of whom became, to a greater or lesser degree, famous names with other affiliations such as Cream, Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac.

True to his own inner compass, however, Mayall was hungry for a radical change in his music to accompany as well as reflect ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers: 70th Birthday Concert

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John Mayall’s concerts of recent years can seem somewhat ritualized and to some extent this double CD of a show in Liverpool, England celebrating his 70th (!) is no exception. But the venerable British bluesman, excited himself about the occasion, demonstrates his long-standing ability to meld musicians into cohesive units and thereby coax consummate musicianship from the individuals within the group.

This is pure wizardry—and perhaps there’s no better word for it considering Mayall's longevity as well as the personnel involved here, one of whom, Eric Clapton, hasn’t actually played with Mayall for close to 40 years. It is both ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

John Mayall: The Turning Point

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John Mayall's position in the British Blues world of the 1960's was akin to Art Blakey's position in the North American jazz scene. Both were gifted discoverers and developers of talent in addition to being notable musicians. At various times, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, John McVie, and Jack Bruce were members of Mayall's ever changing band. In 1968, about the time when the talented blues guitarist Mick Taylor left to play for the Rolling Stones, Mayall radically reconceived his usual electric guitar led format. His live album The Turning Point was the refined result of this risk taking.



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