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Live In 1967

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers

Forty Below 2015

Review by David Bowling

 

So who is Tom Huissen and what is he doing in a music review? Back in 1967, he managed to sneak a one channel reel-to-reel tape recorder into not one but five London Bluesbreakers concerts. Nearly fifty years later John Mayall acquired the tapes with the result being the Live In 1967 CD.

Literally over 100 musicians have played with John Mayall throughout the years including such guitar legends as Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Coco Montoya, and Mick Taylor. 1967 found one of his best configurations with lead guitarist Green, bassist John McVie, and newly added drummer Mick Fleetwood joining Mayall on stage.

The good news is that the music actually exists. These performances were never meant for release, so they should be appreciated as a glimpse into the careers of four musicians who would leave a mark in rock music history. They were one of the Bluesbreakers groups that has gained a lot of fame as the years passed but their time together was short as Green, Fleetwood, and McVie would quickly leave to form Fleetwood Mac, so live material of their time together is extremely rare.

The bad news, as can be guessed, is the sound quality. There is only so much cleaning that can be done with a 48 year old reel-to-reel tape from 1967. Plus, the sound from many small clubs was not very good in the first place. It is basically what it is but one cannot help but think the sound quality gives it an authentic 1967 feel.

The 13 tracks come from three sources. They were still playing music from the Eric Clapton’s Beano album. Green had been a part of the A Hard Road album and his guitar virtuosity drives “The Stumble” and “Someday After Awhile.”

It is the blues covers where the band really shines. They rock through Johnny “Guitar” Watson’s “Looking Back.” There is a very jazzy version of the old R&B hit “Hi Heel Sneakers.” “Stormy Monday,” “San-Ho-Zay,” and “Have You Ever Loved A Woman” all stretch out to over eight minutes and give Green ample room to improvise and prove why he is one of the better guitarists in music history.

Live In 1967 is a rare treat for fans of the electric blues to travel back in time to hear a legendary band at work. It is well-worth the price of admission.

 

Rating: ****

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