John Mayall spans seven decades now and, as proven by the release of Mayall’s critically-acclaimed 2014 album A Special Life, it shows no signs of slowing down as the man approaches his 82nd birthday this year. Mayall has better than 50 studio and live albums to his credit and, as a bandleader, he’s discovered or enlisted talents like Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Walter Trout, Harvey Mandel, Jack Bruce, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood, and many others. As an artist, Mayall has explored and expanded the boundaries of rock, blues, and jazz-fusion and although not a household name stateside (save among blues fans), he’s certainly influenced a number of musicians that are much better known.
With all this to his credit, Mayall is still largely acclaimed for one single album – 1966’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton – the foundation on which Mayall’s legacy is based and which launched Clapton to superstardom, first with Cream then with Derek and the Dominos. Few remember that Mayall released a second, just as successful album a few months later in 1967’s A Hard Road, which featured the extraordinarily-talented guitarist Peter Green. Charting just a few spots below its predecessor, many Mayall aficionados would argue that A Hard Road is the better of the two albums released nearly back-to-back.
However you want to slice it, the period from mid-1966 to mid-67 was a heady, productive, and commercially-fruitful one for Mayall. Sadly, none of the legendary and talented band line-ups he fronted at the time were caught on tape – until now. Forty Below Records (which released Mayall’s A Special Life) has announced an April 21st, 2015 release date for John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live In 1967, a rare live recording by one of the best of the many Bluesbreakers line-ups. Although the band of Mayall, Peter Green, bassist John McVie, and drummer Mick Fleetwood were together a mere three months, they made some mighty fine music together before the three guys that weren’t Mayall flew the coop to form Fleetwood Mac.
This special live recording is available courtesy of a hardcore Mayall fan from Holland by the name of Tom Huissen, who concealed a one-channel reel-to-reel tape recorder on his person as he attended shows at a handful of London clubs (including the legendary Marquee) in early 1967, recording the band’s performance each night. The tapes Huissen made of these shows remained unheard and unreleased until they were recently acquired by Mayall who, working with Forty Below’s Eric Corne, restored them to releasable condition. “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,” says Corne in a press release for the new album.
“I'd known for a decade or two of the existence of these tapes and, in fact, Tom Huissen had sent me a CD with 50 second teasers for some of the tracks that he'd secretly recorded at our London shows,” recalls Mayall in the press release. “Last year, Tom decided he wanted the world to hear these performances and work soon began on restoring the already fine quality on the old reel-to-reel tapes.” The band’s set list for their 1967 performances included songs from both Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton and A Hard Road as well as Mayall’s forthcoming album Crusade (which featured future Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor). Along with Mayall’s original songs were inspired covers of classic blues numbers by artists like Freddie King and Otis Rush (see full track list below).
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live 1967 is a momentous find, a veritable time capsule of classic British blues-rock that provides an invaluable glimpse into the past and shines a well-deserved spotlight on the immense talents of, and too-brief collaboration between Messrs. Mayall, Green, McVie, and Fleetwood.
John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 tracklist:
1. All Your Love
2. Brand New Start
3. Double Trouble
5. Have You Ever Loved A Woman
6. Looking Back
7. So Many Roads
8. Hi Heel Sneakers
9. I Can’t Quit You Baby
10. The Stumble
11. Someday After Awhile
13. Stormy Monday
Buy the CD from Amazon.com: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers - Live In '67