Artist: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
Album: Live in 1967
Label: Forty Below Records
Release Date: 04/21/2015
This album sounds like a group of white British blues rockers playing the blues. Is that because all the white, British blues rockers came through John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers? Yes. Well maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one.
The history of this album is that a fan recorded the sessions on a reel-to-reel recorder that he had snuck into five London clubs. Unheard for fifty years, the tapes were acquired by Mayall and restored. The history of the Bluesbreakes was just as storied.
Over time the band led by John Mayall included some of the greats of British blues rock; Eric Clapton, Mick Fleetwood, John McVie, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor all were part of the Bluesbreakers before going off to rock stardom. This version of the Bluesbreakers features Mayall with Green, McVie, and Fleetwood before they went on to form Fleetwood Mac.
The sound on these restored tracks is not as beautifully clean as we have come to expect from live albums, but that doesn’t matter. This is true blues recorded in a club setting, and I don’t know how you can get any better feeling for the music if you weren’t there in 1967.
A couple of Mayall’s mainstay influences, Otis Rush and Freddie King, are well-represented with “All your Love,” “Double Trouble” and others from Rush and “The Stumble” and “San-Ho-Zay” from King. This version of the Bluesbreakers, while only together for a few months, are so tight that they would have made the masters proud.
If you are familiar with John Mayall—and you should be—this album fills a gap in time that you should greatly appreciate hearing.
– Mark J. Smith