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John Mayall's Bluesbreakers: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers: Live in 1967

Doug Collette By

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Because his career didn't directly ascend to a higher profile subsequent to his tenures in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, guitarist Peter Green's membership in the group doesn't receive as much prominence as that of, Eric Clapton who became an icon of contemporary or Mick Taylor, who joined the Rolling Stones for arguably the greatest albums of their career. This despite the fact Green formed Fleetwood Mac with bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood when he left Mayall's auspices in 1967 the year in which the performances on this CD were recorded by an audience member.

Even after prep work by Mayall himself and remastering by engineer Eric Corne, it's an understatement in the liner notes to describe the resulting sound quality as "certainly not high fidelity." Akin to the sound of a transistor radio, there's virtually no bottom and, since it was recorded on a one-channel reel-to-reel, it doesn't even equal I pod sound on ear-buds because it's not stereo.

But those realities aside, the passion in the performances is palpable from the very beginning in "All My Love." Mayall's evangelistic devotion to the blues genre took its highest form in live performance where his tendency to preach in his own songs often undermined otherwise stellar musicianship. On this collection of tracks , captured at various British clubs in late winter, spring and early in the summer of love (which kitschy preoccupations are notably absent here), the Godfather of British Blues and his band are almost pure feeling on cuts like "Double Trouble" and standards of the idiom such as "Stormy Monday."

Even though many of these numbers were recorded prior to Peter Green's joining the Bluesbreakers, only Freddie King's "The Stumble" appeared on A Hard Road (Deram, 1967), the studio work to which he contributed. Nevertheless, he's equally impassioned whether on a tune of personal expression, such as "Have You Ever Loved A Woman" or a simple exercise in form on the order of "Streamline." It's little surprise selections such as the former are generally extended to allow for the development of his solos (and just as often the inclusion of ones by the bandleader, most often on organ), during the course of which he displays how far he's come in formulating his own voice.

Not once does Green recall his predecessor here nor the influential figures at the roots of his style, including the aforementioned King and Otis Rush. Rather, his almost mature style incorporates an edge with a melodious tone that distinguished him among his contemporaries most perhaps when Mayall, in a nod to the jazz tradition of covering standards contemporary and otherwise, leads the band through a seven minutes-plus exploration of the Tommy tucker composed tune "Hi Heel Sneakers."

It may be hard to hear the presence of drums and bass in the rhythm section of Fleetwood and McVie here, but this is just one track of the thirteen on this CD where it's impossible not to feel their authority and commitment to this music virtues they share equally with their bandmates.

Track Listing: All Your Love; Brand New Start; Double Trouble; Streamline; Have You Ever Loved a Woman; Looking Back; So Many Roads; Hi Heel Sneakers; I Can’t Quit You Baby; The Stumble; Someday After Awhile; San-Ho-Zay; Stormy Monday.

Personnel: John Mayall: vocals, harmonica, organ; Peter Green: guitar; John McVie: bass guitar; Mick Fleetwood: drums.

Title: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers: Live in 1967 | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Forty Below Records

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