John Mayall Album by Album thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sprocket Henry, Jul 22, 2015.

  1. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Now here's something pretty ambitious. I've noticed there's a bit about Mayall on this forum, but beyond a recommendations page there's not really a bonafide go-to for this artist with a dense, formidable and incredibly patchy catalog.

    A bit of background:
    I became a fan of Mayall's work in the early 90's when I was 14-15 (yep, that's right) and I'm fairly certain that he was the first artist that I became totally obsessed with for a good year or so. This is all pretty strange because during this obsessive phase I still had pretty eclectic taste including then-current stuff like Pavement, Sonic Youth and The Smashing Pumpkins, whilst slowly absorbing older stuff like The Byrds and Dylan. Since those teenage halcyon days, interest in Mayall waned fairly rapidly, but recently (and we'll attribute this to encroaching middle age) I've been nostalgically revisiting Mayall's work in truckloads and thought it only appropriate to strike whilst the iron is hot.

    I'll state from the outset that I don't have anything of Mayall's output from 1997 onwards and I've scarcely heard any of it. Also, a majority of his stuff from the latter half of the 70's is incredibly hard to track down; save for a few youtube uploads here and there.

    It will probably be best to restrict this thread to official releases (including the Polydor jazz/blues fusion records from the early 70's), though I'm fairly certain things will get a bit inconsistent once we hit the late 70's/early 80's when the officialdom of releases is a bit harder to pin down. For the sake of the 1960's, I'll ensure I include the singles/EPs, as the lineup changed rapidly around this period.

    I'll get things rolling shortly, however if anyone else wants to take the lead later on, be my guest!
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  2. Bolero

    Bolero Senior Member

    North America
    chicka-chick-aaaaaaah !
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  3. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    I didn't realize his latter 70's stuff is hard to find - is that down your way its scarce? I don't pay much attention to that era.
    This should be fun.
  4. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'm thinking of the DJM trio - Bottom Line (1979), No More Interviews (1980) and Road Show (1982). I believe the story goes that DJM was a largely hyped label at the time but quickly went bust, leaving these albums out of print for a very long time. However, Road Show Blues has been re-released under different titles countless times. I've only ever heard fragments of Bottom Line and No More Interview via youtube; and based on what I've heard, it's probably best they remain out of print. Bottom Line is Mayall's notorious foray into disco. Anyway, I'll save the rest of these observations for later on - it's going to be a wild ride...
  5. old school

    old school Senior Member

    John Mayall is 81 now. I hope you start with his first album and move forward!
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  6. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Absolutely. This is going to be a bit of an odyssey.
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  7. TheDailyBuzzherd

    TheDailyBuzzherd Forum Resident

    Northeast USA
    We'll get lots of responses ( ! ) for the early Mayall, but I'm gonna give kudos
    to his last really good LP, "Spinning Coin", 'cuz there's a lot going on there.
    It's fun, varied, still experimental. Webb Wilder produced it, so it's clear his
    stamp is obvious on at least one song, "Long Story Short". It's also the least
    bluesy with a number of rockers which please.

    It's worth noting that this one was recorded by one of Mayall's stablest bands
    and least appreciated guitarist, Buddy Wittington. I dunno what's happened
    to these guys, but it was a fine band and I heard 'em live at least twice.

    His subsequent releases under the "Bluesbreakers" and whatnot become idled
    by a lack of invention: good, but repetitive. Also, the songwriting suffered over
    time. John regained some of his mojo for "... and Friends", in particular with a
    reunion with Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetwood ( supplemented by
    Steve Miller on geetar ), otherwise his later work is rather flat.
    BluesOvertookMe likes this.
  8. John Fell

    John Fell Forum Survivor

    His newest release A Special Life is good and he has a new album coming out this fall.
  9. Raunchnroll

    Raunchnroll Senior Member

    There is a Blues Anthology Vol. 1 on Immediate that has the single Witch Doctor (Immediate) on it. Not an album I know.... but some of those early UK singles are very difficult to get.
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  10. bRETT

    bRETT Forum Resident

    Boston MA
    Correction: R.S. Field is not Webb Wilder, though the two work together a lot and a lot of people think that.
    TheDailyBuzzherd likes this.
  11. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yep. It will be interesting to see how things progress once we start to drift into the 70's and begin to re-emerge in the 90's when he underwent something of a revival.
  12. TheDailyBuzzherd

    TheDailyBuzzherd Forum Resident

    Northeast USA
    Corrected. Just looked at my copy. How I came up with Wilder is anyone's guess,
    the style? Yet – when I looked into Wilder's background – guess whose name appears?
    Yep, RS Field. There's the connection.

    Now, I also noted that Mayall's publishing company here is Zomba Music. Artwork by
    Nick Gamma of ZombArt. Is this shorthand for Mayall hisself? He used to do his own
    covers, very well too. His style is distinct and in lockstep with similar styles for R'n'B bands
    of The '60s. Does Mayall maintain a graphic arts studio? If not, until when?

    "I knew Mayall back when he lived in a tree ..."
  13. dino77

    dino77 Forum Resident

    I listen to Mayall primarily due to Peter Green and also Mick Taylor and Clapton of course. He is a tremendous talent scout and an occasionally interesting songwriter. As a vocalist, so-so. Will be interesting to follow this thread.
  14. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Let's get cracking.

    Crawling Up A Hill/Mr. James (1964)
    8 May 1964 (Decca Records - F11900)


    John Mayall - vocals, organ
    Bernie Watson - guitar
    John McVie - bass
    Martin Hart - drums

    Recorded April 20 1964. Produced by Mike Vernon.

    Mayall: "That was our first chance of making a record. When I put the Bluesbreakers together, I thought we ought to have something autobiographical, aabout moving from Manchester and starting out out in the business. So I wrote this song..That and "Mr. James" were done at the same time, but being blues, "Mr. James" took a lot less time. We did well over 40 takes of "Crawling Up A Hill" - we were burnt out, so when I listen back, I hear this frenzied desperation. This was the first steady line-up. Prior to that, I was trying desperately to find musicians, not knowing anybody in London. It took a year of chopping and changing. John McVie was recommended by the bass player from Cyril Davies' band - he was taking lessons through him after leaving school."

    Crawling Up A Hill:

    Mr. James:
  15. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Crocodile Walk / Blues City Shakedown (1965)
    April 2 1965 (Decca Records - F12120)


    John Mayall - vocals, organ, piano, harmonica
    Roger Dean - guitar
    John McVie - bass
    Hughie Flint - drums

    Recorded February 26 1965. Produced by Mike Vernon.

    Mayall on "Crocodile Walk": That's another one I wrote in Manchester pretty much at the same time as "Crawling Up A Hill". That was a song I did to amuse my children that found its way into the repertoire. The record company liked it enough to say, well, you can do a single."

    Mayall on "Blues City Shakedown": Blues City was a club Alexis Korner tried to get going. It didn't last long but I wrote this in the toilet at a gig we had there, as an instrumental. I used two harmonicas in different keys do anybody with one harp trying to follow is going to have trouble!"

    "Crocodile Walk"

    "Blues City Shakedown"
  16. vanhooserd

    vanhooserd Senior Member

    I've always loved "I'm Your Witchdoctor". Seems like it could have been a pop hit. "On Top of the World", also with Clapton, is another excellent short & catchy track.
  17. OneStepBeyond

    OneStepBeyond Nuttier than a Snickers bar

    Sorry for interjecting here (good that it's early on though, I suppose :)) but I'm glad to see someone had the idea for this - thank you S Henry.

    I've recently much ventured further than the classic 'Beano' album; although I heard and liked A Hard Road years ago it took some time, oddly and it was only when I got a copy again just months ago that it clicked. I've now bought quite a few JM albums in a short space of time... I have no intention of stopping! What I do need next is to get a copy of his debut - ASAP. And I'm happy to see the singles here as well, as they (some?) were included on later album issues, as we will no doubt see. There may be some gems on them that are now quite rare too.

    Anyway, please continue and I know this is going to be a great thread and will lead to the discovery of a lot of fantastic music both within the Bluesbreakers and with related artists. :righton:
  18. TheDailyBuzzherd

    TheDailyBuzzherd Forum Resident

    Northeast USA
    I've got "Mr James", "Dr" and know of these early singles but never heard 'em.
    VERY Brit Invasion, a little surprised. Roger Dean was good!
  19. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    John Mayall Plays John Mayall (1965)
    March 26 1965 (Decca Records)

    1. "Crawling Up a Hill" - 2:21
    2. "I Wanna Teach You Everything" - 3:05
    3. "When I'm Gone" - 3:08
    4. "I Need Your Love" - 4:08
    5. "The Hoot Owl" - 2:35
    6. "R&B Time" - 2:15
    7. "Crocodile Walk" - 2:26
    8. "What's the Matter with You" - 2:34
    9. "Doreen" - 2:46
    10. "Runaway" - 2:25
    11. "Heartache" - 2:57
    12. "Chicago Line" - 4:10
    • John Mayall - Vocals, harmonica, cembalett, organ, 9 string guitar
    • Roger Dean - Guitar
    • John McVie - Bass guitar
    • Hughie Flint - Drums
    • Nigel Stanger - Saxophone
    Mayall: "I thought the Klooks Kleek album was a little desperate. Again, it was early days for us. Knowing there's microphones on you and you're going to get recorded felt uncomfortable. [...] Klooks Kleek was one of the major venues. Everyone rotated around, say, six regular clubs, like the Fishmonger's Arms, the Black Prince in Bexley and Manor House. Hughie Flint was in Blues Syndicate with me in Manchester but he didn't want to come down to London right away so he missed out on "Crawling Up A Hill". The drum chair belonged to him after that."
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  20. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

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  21. You Better You Bet

    You Better You Bet Forum Resident

    A neglected classic. I bought a copy of the original West German London 820 536-2 CD to replace my worn LP. First album. Live album. Twelve tracks out of which eleven are Mayall originals out of the gate. Good stuff.
  22. Great idea for a thread. I really like John Mayall and I think I have most of his albums oc CD and/or vinyl.
  23. OneStepBeyond

    OneStepBeyond Nuttier than a Snickers bar

    Bumping this because I'm wondering what happened to this thread? :confused:

    I've got John Mayall Plays John Mayall on right now (2006 remaster, with 5 bonus tracks) and think it's excellent - not the first time I've heard it but the first time I've been able to have it on my system at a fair volume and it certainly deserves to be heard that way; such an enjoyable album.

    One thing that I'd love to know is his self-penned song on here called Hoot Owl, what is that sound effect? Surely not a theramin?? I'd be grateful to an answer to that and maybe this could kickstart the discussion here again...

    I'd imagine an original/first LP pressing would but I got my CD from Amazon UK for less than £5 and it has the A and B sides of the first two singles and a 5th track - My Baby Is Sweeter. :)
  24. Sprocket Henry

    Sprocket Henry Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Following up this weekend!

    That's a promise folks.
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  25. OneStepBeyond

    OneStepBeyond Nuttier than a Snickers bar

    Thank you. :cheers:

    But there's no pressure - I know people have jobs to go to etc (me included) but I thought it was odd that nobody at all had added anything for almost a month. It just so happens this way with a lot of threads though. :)
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