John Mayall Album by Album thread

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

  1. JulesRules

    JulesRules Operational, partially functional

    So, I guess, we'll talk about "Looking Back" a bit then?

    It's really just an odds'n'ends compilation that Decca released after John left the label.
    While this LP contained several tracks from non-LP singles, it's far from complete (e.g. only part 2 of "Suspicions"), and you're better off getting the various CD reissues if you're interested in additional material.

    And as I have only half the songs on the UK LP, I can't really talk about it either. But I'll hold back posting The Turning Point until everyone has said what they want to say about Looking Back ;)
  2. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long maybe we should bring in 1971’s Thru The Years as well to fill in the gaps:


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  3. bluesfan

    bluesfan Forum Resident

    I looked up, where the tracks of (the regular) "Looking Back" come from:

    Mr. James (single B-side, 1964)

    Blues City Shakedown (single B-side, 1965)

    They Call It Stormy Monday (with Eric Clapton, live)

    So Many Roads (single B-side, with Peter Green, 1966)

    Looking Back (single A-side, with Peter Green, 1966)

    Sitting in the Rain (single A-side, with Peter Green, 1967)

    It Hurts Me Too (single B-side, with Peter Green, 1967)

    Double Trouble (single A-side, with Peter Green, 1967)

    Suspicions (Part Two) (single, October 1967, with saxophone)

    Jenny (single A-side, with Peter Green, 1968)

    Picture on the Wall (single B-side, with Peter Green, 1968)

    Missing are the flipsides “Crawling Up a Hill”, “Crocodile Walk”, “Out of Reach” and “Suspicions (Part One)”. All these are on the above LP "Thru the Years".

    I have the Peter Green tracks on the second CD of the expanded "Hard Road" (Deram B0001083-02) - excellent value for the money and good sounding.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2019
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  4. fast'n'bulbous

    fast'n'bulbous tight also

    New York, NY
    FYI, Thru the Years was a double LP in the US with a significantly different track list:

    Knockers Step Forward 3:12
    Mama, Talk To Your Daughter 2:38
    Alabama March 2:29
    Our Of Reach 4:42
    Greeny 3:54
    Curly 4:50
    Missing You 1:57
    Please Don't Tell 2:26
    Your Funeral And My Trial 3:55
    Suspicions - Part I 2:47
    Hide And Seek 2:22
    Key To Love 2:06
    I'm A Stranger 5:11
    Stand Back Baby 1:43
    Have You Heard 5:55
    No Reply 3:07
    Sonny Boy Blow 3:46
    The Bear 4:40
    Don't Kick Me 3:10
    The Supernatural 2:20
    Me And My Woman 4:00
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  5. NumberEight

    NumberEight Came too late and stayed too long

    Thank you: I never knew that.

    A similar concept to the German Looking Back.
  6. bluesfan

    bluesfan Forum Resident

    They are all on YouTube. I put the links on the song titles.

    I'll try:

    "Mr. James": A generic Blues with the early band.

    "Blues City Shakedown": Harmonica instrumental with a special chord change.

    "They Call It Stormy Monday": An Eric Clapton showpiece that demonstrates why he was held in such a high esteem while in the Bluesbreakers. Recorded live at the Flamingo Club, London, 17th March 1966. It is on several comps and on Disc 2 of the Deluxe Edition of "Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton".

    "So Many Roads": What Clapton does above, Peter Green does here.

    "Looking Back": Upbeat, with a wailing Peter Green and horns.

    "Sitting in the Rain": Light and mellow, a style Mayall pioneered on “The Blues Alone”. Green supports him with undistorted tone.

    "It Hurts Me Too": Green plays that Blues standard without slide and with an almost clean tone.

    "Double Trouble": Mayall and Green do the song justice, but it’s more subdued and less energetic than Otis Rush’s original.

    "Suspicions (Part Two)": Typical Bluesbreakers song, with hefty saxophone support.

    "Jenny": Atmospheric Mayall song with Peter Green guesting, adding his reverb drenched Fleetwood Mac style.

    "Picture on the Wall": Laid back, easy grooving love song with slide guitar. The drums are reduced to percussion – a transitional track pointing to “The Turning Point”.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2019
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  7. bluesfan

    bluesfan Forum Resident

    According to posts 167 and 170 "They Call It Stormy Monday" was recorded Sunday 7 November 1965 at the Flamingo. I had forgotten we had that discussion earlier in the thread.
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  8. bluesfan

    bluesfan Forum Resident

    Earlier comments referring to „Stormy Monday“:

    Earlier comment referring to “Looking Back”:

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  9. kollektionist

    kollektionist Forum Resident

    Looking Back is a great album. Just goes to show, as in many other cases, leaving a track off the album it was recorded for, isn't always because it's inferior. Although it's a great track, I'm not much of a fan of including a live recording inbetween studio recordings. Great guitar though ! But my favorite has to be Double Trouble. Even though slightly inferior to the Otis Rush original, it still kills here. Of course, not in the way Clapton does on Just One Night. That just has to be one of the all-time great covers ! Anyway, I think they did a great job compiling this album. It certainly deserves a place in Mayall's core discography and on these pages.
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  10. JulesRules

    JulesRules Operational, partially functional

    The Turning Point

    Released 1969

    "Blues from Laurel Canyon" had been John Mayall's last album for Decca, he now signed with Polydor. I'm sure some record company executives might have been not entirely convinced of what their new artist released as his debut: A live album? Sure, why not, Mayall's bands were renowned for high-quality live music. No cover versions? Fine, the previous two LPs had also only contained self-penned material. But a live album with 100% new songs, no drums, no keyboards and very little electric guitar? Does seem a bit of a departure.

    But apparently the new band went down so well live, that such ruminations were useless. "The Turning Point" turned out to be one of John Mayall's most successful projects. And it's interesting how it came about...

    John Mayall had lost another lead guitarist. Thinking about how blessed he was to have had three absolute guitar greats in his band, all of whom went on to enjoy greater success, and how each new guitarist would have bigger footsteps to fill, he eventually decided he wanted to dispense with electric lead guitar and drums altogether. It was a movement that flew in the face of current times, but it was in-character: With previous albums ("Crusade" especially so), he wanted to get blues into the public's focus. Now it was, and thanks to Cream and Hendrix everything had become louder and more aggressive, so it's kind of natural that a restless artist would want to explore different avenues. In this case it meant a re-orientation towards jazz and acoustic music.
    "The Turning Point" was recorded at two concerts in the Fillmore East on July 11 and 12, 1969, and featured a band of three "Johns" plus one "Steve"... aside from Mayall himself, who decided to not play any keyboards in this period (which is a big step considering they are his main instrument, and what he had been playing the most until that point), the band consisted of Steve Thompson on electric bass (who'd played on "Laurel Canyon" and now also written several tracks with Mayall), Jon Mark on acoustic fingerstyle guitar and Johnny Almond on tenor / alto saxophones and flutes.
    The album title is not just a meaningless phrase, as the album sounds unlike anything before.

    The lyrics, I might note, have improved, although there are still moments when he follows up a line like "I think she's pretty as a rose" with "I take her out and buy her clothes". Wowza...

    The Laws Must Change: A relatively animated one to start things off. I like the harmonica/saxophone intro. John's singing sounds good (I know he once made a remark about not always being particularly happy about his singing on live recordings, but I don't have any complaints here). I'm less enthused about the long flute solo, even though I like Jethro Tull... The lyrics make this one of John's first overtly political songs, thereby continuing in the vein of his big idol JB Lenoir.

    Saw Mill Gulch Road: Much more atmospheric second track. John plays some electric slide guitar, mostly for drawn-out soundscapes. Gentle flute accompaniment (this time more reminiscent of Traffic's Chris Wood) adds to the dream-like feel of the song. Still, it's a bit slow...

    I'm Gonna Fight for You J.B.: Another heartfelt tribute to John's hero JB Lenoir (after "The Death of J.B. Lenoir" from Crusade), and a sort of artistic motto for Mayall. Three songs in and I really long for some drums. This track mostly lives on the interaction between John's electric and Jon's acoustic guitar (the sax only comes in on the final chorus). In fact, there's a quite pretty solo from John, who's relatively rarely heard on lead guitar.

    So Hard to Share: It's still 12-bar blues mode, but this time with more of a jazz flavour, as Johnny Almond gets to stretch out on sax, and the tempo changes a few times. Mayall himself does some scat-singing-while-playing-on-guitar-in-unison. My favourite track so far and although it's seven minutes long, it doesn't get boring. Well done!

    California: A beautiful modal song based on Steve Thompson's bass line that's unlike most Mayall tracks and not particularly blues-based. It remains a welcome live song and he re-recorded it in 2001 on "Along for the Ride". Still, it only being one chord for nine minutes makes me a bit drowsy. The interaction between flute and harp is cool though.

    Thoughts about Roxanne: The jazziest track on here and it's nice and laid back. You know, it's all nice but all a bit too laid back for me! I definitely appreciate of the tempo change in the middle, which helps things from getting too sleepy.

    Room to Move: If there is a main reason for listening to this album... this is it. It's also notable for being Mayall's only big hit and signature piece. And it's clearly the most energetic song on "The Turning Point", immediately grabbing you with the lively start-stop rhythm and harp, flute and acoustic guitar working perfectly together. And of course there's the harmonica / proto-beatbox solo showcase in the middle

    The 2001 remaster, which sounds beautiful, contains three bonus tracks. As two entire concerts were recorded for the live album, I'm sure there must be more material somewhere, unless it got burned in the notorious fire...

    Sleeping By Her Side: Very quiet and slow song but one that manages to conjure up a captivating atmosphere. IMO this is a track somewhat similar to "First Time Alone" from Laurel Canyon but superior as it gets its romantic message across with more subtlety and poetry.

    Don't Waste My Time: A song with percussion! This is more upbeat sounding than the LP tracks and was apparently also a single (although I'm not sure if it was this version or the one from "Empty Rooms" - can anyone explain this?).

    Can't Sleep This Night: Another song about sleeping, eh? Nice enough but probably no big loss that this wasn't included on the original album.

    So, this is "The Turning Point". And in some ways, it really was - this was the most successful Mayall album and it contained his only actual hit single. Nonetheless, the format didn't last very long either. John recorded another album with this sound and style ("Empty Rooms"), but then quickly went back to a more traditional line-up.

    Where "Blues from Laurel Canyon" IMHO didn't entirely work in creating a totally unique identity, partially because I'm simply not so hot on some of the songs, "The Turning Point" is completely successful. It was a brave move and one that totally paid off. Still, the more intimate sound of some of the tracks means that I have to be in the right mood to enjoy the album. It's an evening/night album to chill out to, if you ask me.

    On a sad note, sax and flute player Johnny Almond died ten years ago. After the Mayall episode he had formed the duo Mark-Almond with, guess who, Jon Mark! (Not to be confused with British singer Marc Almond...) Critics loved them, the public wasn't so interested...
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  11. mark winstanley

    mark winstanley Certified dinosaur, who likes physical product

    I loved Turning Point. It isn't an album I would listen to every day, but it has a special feel, that only it can get across.
    When I got this album it was a random purchase and not what I expected, but that ended up being a good thing.
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  12. garymc

    garymc Forum Resident

    Florida, USA
    I love Turning Point of course. My entry point** into John Mayall back in the day. I also played the heck out of Mark-Almond's 1970 debut album. It also got a lot of play on the local underground FM station (The Ghetto and The City in particular).

    **I knew the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, but thought of it as an "Eric Clapton" album. Way too young to understand the whole Mayall thing.
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  13. JulesRules

    JulesRules Operational, partially functional

    In fact, I have those two albums (Bluesbreakers with EC and The Turning Point) as a double CD set with minimal artwork. Cheap purchase but what an odd coupling. On the other hand, that's a pretty good overview over John's versatility.
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  14. bluesfan

    bluesfan Forum Resident

    I was lucky enough to catch John Mayall on the „Turning Point“ tour, in Amsterdam. The music was about the same as on the LP.

    After the show I waited in the stairway to get my program signed by my hero. I was surprised by how annoyed he seemed by that. Afterwards I said to myself that he must have been exhausted by the show and longed for a drink and a bite to eat. Still, I was a bit disillusioned by this first contact with the international show business.

    I don’t think that people today realize how innovative Mayall’s concept was at the time. All the well-known bands had loud lead guitars and drums – as Mayall himself had until Mick Taylor left. It was a bit like the first MTV unplugged concert. The only band doing something comparable was Crosby, Stills and Nash. Their first album was released a few weeks before the first known recordings of “The Turning Point” songs. But the “sofa album” has some electric lead guitar and drums on it.
  15. Walter Sobchak

    Walter Sobchak Forum Resident

    A lot of his ideas were quite interesting, his own limitations as a musician sometimes kept them from greatness but they were never dull (Jazz Blues Fusion comes to mind)
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  16. JulesRules

    JulesRules Operational, partially functional

    I've picked that up for 5€ recently! Quite possibly the best 5€ I spent in the last few months...
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  17. JulesRules

    JulesRules Operational, partially functional

    I've just listened to the 70th Birthday Concert again (one of my favourite live albums, period!). Be a shame if this thread never made it into the modern era...
    Anybody up for posting "Empty Rooms"?
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  18. JulesRules

    JulesRules Operational, partially functional

    A shame this thread has become inactive again. Anybody up for posting the next albums?
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  19. Ken E.

    Ken E. Senior Member

    New Providence NJ
    The vinyl record has never been released on a U.S. label, and yes it is difficult to find, especially completely intact with inner AND in EX>NM condition. Can anyone speak to the merits of any of the re-issues from 1976-1981 from the UK or Germany? This is the one JM missing from my collection, vinyl of course. Thanks
  20. bluesfan

    bluesfan Forum Resident

    Okay, I took it upon me to present the next album. I put YouTube links on the song titles for those that don’t know this album.

    Empty Rooms (1970)

    March 1970 (Polydor Records)


    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

    “Empty Rooms is a studio album by English blues musician John Mayall, released in March 1970 on Polydor. It is a follow-up to the live album The Turning Point, released earlier in the year with the same musicians: Jon Mark on acoustic guitar, Johnny Almond on saxophones and flute, and Stephen Thompson on bass. John Mayall sings, plays harmonica, guitars and keyboards (including a moog synthesizer). Former Canned Heat bassist Larry Taylor guests as second bass player on one track, "To a Princess", improvising with Thompson on an unusual bass duet. The absence of a drummer leaves the rhythm rather fluid and the resulting sound is unusual, even for a John Mayall album. The songs, all written by Mayall, mostly addressed his romance with photographer Nancy Throckmorton, a theme he would pursue further on USA Union.
    Empty Rooms was the only known set of studio recordings by the Turning Point lineup, which broke up shortly after the album was recorded.”

    AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann:

    “This was John Mayall's studio-recorded follow-up to the live The Turning Point, featuring the same drumless quartet of himself, guitarist Jon Mark, reed player Johnny Almond, and bassist Steve Thompson. Mayall was at a commercial and critical peak with this folk-jazz approach; the album's leadoff track, "Don't Waste My Time," had become his sole singles chart entry prior to the LP's release, and although his former label, London, confused matters by releasing the two-year-old Diary of a Band, Vol. 1 in the U.S. just before this new album appeared in early 1970, the new crop of fans he'd found with The Turning Point stuck with him on this gentle, reflective release. Empty Rooms hit Number 33 in the U.S.; in the U.K. it got to Number Nine.”

    Introductory text by John Mayall on back cover:

    “Every person who ever felt loneliness must know the feeling of an empty room - and it is painfully noticeable that the sixties have created a society of lonely people. As the patterns of living grow more complex, it becomes harder and harder to find personal peace - which is sad. I don't presume to know the answers, but this album consists of my personal observations and feelings - all a part of my search for happiness. I believe that the answers must evolve from love, hope, honesty and trust, but each of us must search for our own truths ...”


    “I dedicate this album to Nancy and the start of something good”


    A note on the back cover says: “Full discographies and song lyrics included”. These are printed on a folded leaflet with a complete discography for each track and the lyrics for each song. It reveals that not every song features the whole band. Four are by Mayall alone – he’s playing all the instruments. On two more he’s augmented by Steve Thompson on bass and one other has the dueling bassists beside him. So, only five out of a dozen tracks feature the band.

    The leaflet lists the recording studios as well – there were four on two continents – and the recording engineers:
    DeLane Lea, London (Barry Ainsworth): tracks A1, A3
    Broadway, New York (Eddie Kramer): tracks A2, A4, A6, B1, B4, B5
    Larrabee, Los Angeles (John Judnich): tracks A5, B3, B6
    Advision, London (Eddy Offord): track B2


    John Mayall: vocals, keyboards, guitar (lead guitar, 12 string guitar), synthesizer (bass Moog), harmonica, producer
    Jon Mark: guitar (fingerstyle guitar and 12 string guitars)
    Johnny Almond: saxophones, flutes
    Steve Thompson: bass guitar
    Larry Taylor (guest): bass guitar
    The nice cover photograph of the long-haired John Mayall is by Bob Gordon.


    Side one

    A1 Don't Waste My Time (co-written by Steve Thompson)
    Mayall trying to find a woman to spend the night with while on a short stay in the city. Upbeat, driven by acoustic guitar and harmonica, bass is rather subdued. Impressive picking by Jon Mark. Johnny Almond adds percussion (sticks on wood). An infectious opener with a Country & Western touch. This was one of two singles from this album, the only one to chart (81 USA, 54 Canada).

    A2 Plan Your Revolution
    This song stands out by its political message. The revolution Mayall proposes is really taking political action abiding by the laws. Making a political statement in a song lyric is a thing Mayall started with the preceding album, The Turning Point. Here he is only helped by Steve Thompson. The instruments he plays himself make a tight virtual band. This was the B-side of the second single.

    A3 Don't Pick a Flower (co-written by Jon Mark)
    This is about the farthest Mayall could possibly stray away from the Blues. It is more like a traditional European song. Solo instrument is the flute, played by Johnny Almond. The voice is strangely brittle. This was the B side of the first single.

    A4 Something New (co-written by Jon Mark)
    Nice two-chord groove, driven by the bass.

    A5 People Cling Together
    High 12-string guitar notes with a lot of reverb – a style Mayall used in The Blues Alone. Here he plays all the instruments himself again.

    A6 Waiting for the Right Time (co-written by Jon Mark)
    A laid back groove and a nice saxophone solo. Mayall uses his lowest vocal register for a change.

    Side two

    B1 Thinking of My Woman
    Mayall harmonizing with himself on six tracks, playing guitar, playing Moog bass and clapping. This was the second single, the one that didn’t chart.

    B2 Counting the Days
    The start is jazzy, then there is a dreamy middle part, after Mayall says he is dreaming of his love.

    B3 When I Go
    Another solo effort. Mayall plays different guitars and takes several harmonica solos. The strangely high pitched vocal is probably meant to express vulnerability.

    B4 Many Miles Apart
    Mayall relates how good it felt to talk to his distant love on the telephone.

    B5 To a Princess
    Former Canned Heat member Larry Taylor plays bass in a duet with Thompson. He would become Mayall's next bassist. For some time the two bass guitars are the only accompaniment in this song.

    B6 Lying in My Bed
    Mayall plays two electric pianos and a guitar to a long spoken monologue about his feelings for his new found love.

    On side two of the LP the lyrics circle around the theme of thinking about his love alone at night, being separated by thousands of miles from her and longing for her. The macho that needed “Room to Move” on the preceding album is now seriously in love and promises that he “won’t mess around” while away on tour.

    The Turning Point was fresh and energetic. In Empty Rooms the formula without drums and electric lead guitar peters out after the infectious opener and transforms into a Mayall solo effort that is reminiscent of The Blues Alone from three years back.

    Empty Rooms gets an AllMusic rating of three stars out of five. I think that’s adequate, while the average of four stars by the users is too high a rating. It’s a good album, but not a very good one. John Mayall has done much better before.
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  21. Arnold Grove

    Arnold Grove Senior Member

  22. All Down The Line

    All Down The Line Forum Resident

    Yes though had lost contact and advertised for Mick by using his actual name in a music paper!
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  23. JulesRules

    JulesRules Operational, partially functional

  24. E.Baba

    E.Baba Forum Resident

    Haha, nice to see this thread has only got as far as Empty Rooms because I have a question.

    How massive is the bass presentation supposed to be ?
    Just ran the original Polydor CD for the first time and the atmospheric tracks are essentially overwhelmed by thunder.
    Noting the above that there is 2 bass might have something to do with it, but how do others hear it ?
  25. bluesfan

    bluesfan Forum Resident

    The two basses are only in "To a Princess". They do verge on boomy. Thinking of My Woman has a Moog bass that is quite heavy.

    But People Cling Together and When I Go don't have any bass at all. In the other songs that have bass it didn't hit me as intrusive when I was listening on LP or YouTube, except maybe for Something New and Lying in My Bed.

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