John  Mayall’s’s BluesBreakers

Live in 1967

Forty Below Records

So a Dutch fan of Mayall’s decides to lug a reel-to-reel tape recorder around to various London club gigs and all these years later, our bandleader is able to hand the tapes to an engineer (Eric Corne) to get the best shot he can onto a CD master. So whilst not of present-day audio quality and more akin to an eavesdrop ‘live’ recording, we get to hear a historic set of recordings from 1967 of a short-lived BluesBreakers line-up, three-quarters of which would soon team up with Jeremy Spencer to form Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac. Many of you love the ‘Hard Road’ album originally on Decca and in its current format including the fabulous team-up with US harp maestro Paul Butterfield. But good live recordings are scarce of that lineup, let alone this one. Something Mayall commented upon when I gave him a book called ‘London Live’ documenting the metropolis’ venues and scene of the Sixties at a show in Guildford a couple of years ago.

The drums recording sounds OK, the bass the right side of good, the organ fairly full, the harpwork very listenable and the Peter Green guitar work overall capturing his haunting and fluid ‘Decca’ era sound. How this man felt the blues! Peter shrugs it off when you speak to him saying that’s where he was at that time and even now he just doesn’t realise how captivating his sound was – let alone his choice of notes and distinct vibrato – not just for listeners but for nascent guitar players.

For the lowdown on the release we’ll be featuring a chat I had with Mayall in LA last week but this for the fan is 76 minutes of wonder, for the main part. Some of the cuts were not featured on contemporary albums eg ‘Hi Heel Sneakers’, ‘Stormy Monday’ and Freddie King’s ‘San-Ho-Zay’. During the latter at around 5:00 Green hits that voodoo note ! ‘Double Trouble; is pure desolation in musical format ; ‘Streamline’ has a catchy riff. Green powers through ‘The Stumble’ with a flowing torrent of notes that are driven and forceful. ‘Lookin’ Back’ is the jaunty inclusion it always was.

Hence as an aural scrapbook of what you could hear from these guys in London clubs at that time, this is of much vaue.

A treat for fans, in my humble opinion. I am one, for sure…

Pete Sargeant