Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Sprocket Henry, Jul 22, 2015.
Bare Wires and Laurel Canyon easily stand up to anything in the Mayall catalog....
I don't have the time to take over this thread but maybe we can kickstart it again...
Next up : Bare Wires
1. "Bare Wires Suite" (Medley) 22:58
a. "Bare Wires" (1:25)
b. "Where Did I Belong" (3:05)
c. "I Started Walking" (2:20)
d. "Open Up A New Door" (3:00)
e. "Fire" (3:45)
f. "I Know Now" (5:35)
g. "Look In The Mirror" (2:51)"
1. "I'm a Stranger" 5:14
2. "No Reply" (Mayall, Mick Taylor) 3:09
3. "Hartley Quits" (Taylor) 2:55
4. "Killing Time" 4:48
5. "She's Too Young" 2:22
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
John Mayall – vocals, harmonica, piano, harpsichord, organ, harmonium, guitar
on tracks 1 - 7 and 10 - 13:
Mick Taylor – lead guitar, Hawaiian guitar
Chris Mercer – tenor, baritone saxophone
Dick Heckstall-Smith – tenor, soprano saxophone
Jon Hiseman – drums, percussion
Henry Lowther – cornet, violin
Tony Reeves – string bass, bass guitar
Peter Green – guitar on "Picture on the Wall" and "Jenny"
Keef Hartley – drums on "Picture on the Wall"
Mike Vernon, John Mayall – producers
Derek Varnals – engineer
Pete Smith, Jan Persson – photography
This covers the end of the Decca era, so it goes a bit beyond Bare Wires, but I decided to post it all at once. All quotes in italics as usual.
Bare Wires → Laurel Canyon
The Bluesbreakers (Taylor, Hartley, Mercer and Heckstall-Smith) together with Paul Williams, their new bass player, did some radio recordings for the BBC in September 1967, including some songs from the “Crusade” LP. They also did the Mayall oldie “Another Man”, plus some blues standards never recorded before or since [by Mayall], such as B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel” and Booker T’s “The Hunter”. Mayalls compositions were “I Can’t Sleep”, “Not at Home” (both composed on the spot!) and “Supermarket Day”. The BBC has never released songs from any of these sessions.
Next release was a long single divided into two parts: “Suspicions Part One” with Taylor’s guitar solo is much shorter (3:18) than “Part Two” (5:27) which features Heckstall-Smith on multiple saxes. Mayall brought in extra horns, hiring an additional seven players. You can hear a baritone and an alto saxophone, two trombones and three trumpets.
In September Taylor’s Gibson Les Paul was stolen. His search for a replacement led him to Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones, who had one for sale.
In October 1967 Alexis Korner […] targeted Mayall in a stinging article published in the Melody Maker […] criticizing Mayall for taking the blues in an aggressive, electric, “urban” direction, and thus away from its “roots”. […] The following week, Melody Maker published Mayall’s reply. […] Fortunately, the discord between Mayall and Korner blew over relatively quickly, and six months later, Alexis invited Mayall to his fortieth birthday party, where the guests included Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful [sic!], Ginger Baker and Ornette Coleman.
On Tuesday, 17 October 1967, […] at Klooks Kleek in West Hampstead […] after the break John announced, “We have a special guest who’s going to play the next set with us” and out walked Jimi Hendrix, to gasps and cheers from the audience. Taylor handed his Les Paul to Hendrix, who, being left-handed, turned it over and began to play. To the total amazement of the crowd, including Taylor, who stood at the side of the stage the whole time, watching and shaking his head in admiration, Jimi proceeded to play a whole set of incredible blues, with the fat E-string closest to the floor! Obviously, Hendrix could even play with the strings upside down!
Paul Williams left after eight weeks and became the lead singer (!) of The Alan Price Set. His replacement was Keith Tillman (from Aynsley Dunbar’s Retaliation). He had only been with Aynsley Dunbar for a few months, but, having seen them live several times, had a good grasp of the Bluesbreakers’ repertoire. Tillman was also a wholehearted blues fan and an enthusiastic record collector. Tillman’s live debut [took place] in front of a full house at the Marquee club, with John McVie in the audience. However, McVie was more interested in seeing the Bluesbreakers’ support band Chicken Shack, whose singer Christine Perfect made quite an impression.
In Port Stewart, at the farcical insistence of the venue manager, the band had to close their performance with “God Save The Queen”, resulting in what must be the only modern jazz version.
Mayall recorded a solo single with Peter Green (and Keef Hartley): “Blues for Jenny”/”Picture on the Wall”.
The “Diary of a Band” recordings were edited down to two LPs with ~48 min each, but in 2007 Decca re-released the complete recordings as a re-mastered double CD.
Back home in Britain [after the first US tour; see below], Mayall was voted top in the section ‘Blues Artists – British’ by Melody Maker readers, ahead of Georgie Fame, Alexis Korner, Long John Baldry and Eric Clapton.
On February 23, Mayall expanded his horn section by adding trumpeter (and occasional violinist) Henry Lowther, known to Bluesbreakers fans from the single “Looking Back/So Many Roads”. Tillman was not fond of horn players, so decided to leave to pursue Python Records, his own label, which catered for blues purists. [He] was replaced by the tender 15-year-old, Jack Bruce-influenced Andy Fraser. He was the Bluesbreakers’ youngest member to date, but had already been playing for three years. Fraser had left school early, and was dating [Alexis] Korner’s daughter, Sappho, at the time. […] It was Korner who recommended Fraser to Mayall, although he was actually a guitarist. […] Frazer [sic‼] may have been physically diminutive, but his bass playing was incredible.
Mayall then changed things round by replacing Keef Hartley and Andy Fraser with the jazzier rhythm section of Jon Hiseman (from The New Jazz Orchestra, The Graham Bond Organisation and Georgie Fame’s band) and Tony Reeves.
This line-up (Mayall, Taylor, Reeves, Hiseman, Heckstall-Smith, Mercer and Lowther) recorded the ambitious “Bare Wires” LP (in four days…). Two other tracks from the sessions later saw the light of day on “Thru the Years” in 1971. The “Bare Wires” album anticipates progressive rock by exploring the gap between blues, jazz and psychedelia; it featured uncommon instruments, sound effects and time signatures more complex than the usual blues-based 4/4. Released on June 21, 1968, ot [sic!] became Mayalls highest charting album ever, reaching number 3 in Britain and number 59 in the US Billboard charts. Advance orders in the USA were an impressive 50,000 copies, double the usual amount.
Nonetheless, Mayall quickly got fed up of the large group and only kept Hiseman (who soon quit to form his own band Colosseum) and Taylor. He took a holiday in California, staying at Frank Zappa’s Laurel Canyon log cabin before moving to Canned Heat’s place in nearby Topanga Canyon. […] While on holiday, Mayall contributed piano to a couple of tracks destined for the Heat’s third album, “Living the Blues”.
Giving up the Bluesbreakers name, Mayall now went back to using just his own name. The new band included 17 year-old Steve Thompson and Colin Allen (drummer from Zoot Money’s and Georgie Fame’s bands). “Blues from Laurel Canyon” (featuring only original compositions) was the last Mayall album on Decca. [T]he LP was not as successful as its predecessor, reaching only Number 33 in Britain and Number 68 in the US. However, his live act became even more popular, resulting in British concerts in large venues without support. On November 16, Mayall headlined the Blues Scene ‘68 concert with a triumphant show at London’s Royal Festival Hall. The line-up also featured Muddy Waters, Champion Jack Dupree and the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation. This was followed by equally successful gigs in Scandinavia and Scotland. Mayall recorded another BBC session (his last) on January 8.
Steve Thompson had fallen ill and had to be replaced by Tony Reeves (when he wasn’t playing with Colosseum), Keith Tillman and Jerome Arnold (brother of Billy Boy Arnold). But then Mayall himself caught the flu and had to cancel gigs. With Mayall bedridden, Taylor did some recording sessions with Champion Jack Dupree for “Scoobydoobydoo”, his new Blue Horizon album. Producer Mike Vernon had put together a stellar line-up that included two of Mayall’s ex-drummers, Keef Hartley and Aynsley Dunbar, in addition to bass players Gary Thain [later Uriah Heep] and Alex Dmochowski. This is a wonderful and highly recommended album, not least thanks to Mick Taylor’s excellent contributions.
When the band went back to touring, an argument broke out. Taylor had used the break to visit a girlfriend in St. Louis, and was rejoining the others for the Winnipeg gig before they headed off to Chicago. [Taylor] asked Mayall to reimburse him, Mayall refused and Taylor replied by announcing his departure. On stage that night, he never once looked at Mayall or spoke to the audience, standing motionless to the right of the stage […]. Nonetheless it must have been an amazing gig – [p]laying a red Gibson SG guitar through a simple Fender Super Reverb amp with no pedals, gizmos or gadgets, he was dazzling, bringing the Clapton school of pure blues to the city.
Colin Allen also decided to leave (he later played with Brian Auger, then joined Stone the Crows) – Mayall himself decided to move to California permanently and to switch from Decca to Polydor. Polydor offered greater artistic freedom and better money.
The band did play another string of gigs – eight concerts in Britain and a debut tour of northern Germany. A live recording taken from the Glocke in Bremen on May 22 [containing a fourteen minute-long “Parchman Farm”] was widely bootlegged. Taylor wanted to have a rest before making another career move, but […] his first session with the [Rolling] Stones took place on May 31.
Mayall finished his Decca chapter with the compilation “Looking Back”, which went to number 10 in Britain. Decca would release more unreleased material by John later on “Thru the Years” (mainly PG-era) and “Primal Solos” (five tracks with EC and Jack Bruce plus three with Mick T). Mayall also produced the Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation album “To Mum from Aynsley and the Boys”.
“I've always steered clear if making a live LP because of the hit and miss element of a good or a bad night, not to mention the strain of playing to an audience and everybody being aware of the engineers, etc.” – John Mayall on the motivation behind the “Diary of a Band” project
“To hear Hendrix live was always exciting. He sat in with us two or three times. And it was so unlike what you’d expect of Hendrix, so quiet and subtle… the most low-key thing he could have possibly played.” – Mayall on Hendrix sitting in
“It was just hilarious. The promoter said ‘I'm terribly sorry, but it’s the rule of the ballroom that you play the national anthem’, so we had to do it. Musical chaos!” – Mayall on having to play the National Anthem
“The thing with Peter’s playing, and people like Eric and B.B. King, is that they have that touch: they can pick up a guitar and play just two notes and you know who it is. Now that’s a very rare thing.” – Mayall on Peter Green
“Musically, the group evokes an exciting sound without the loudness usually associated with blues-rock” – a Billboard reviewer on one of the first US Bluesbreakers gigs
“The gig was great. Interestingly enough, it was largely a black audience” – Keith Tillman on playing in Detroit
“When I touched down in Los Angeles, all of a sudden I knew that this is where I wanted to live. It was in January, and in New York the weather was pretty much like in Britain until we got to California. I was from Manchester, but never really liked the English weather and I’d had 30 years of it. And everything I’d always loved was American – jazz, blues, movies, books.” – John Mayall on falling in love with California
“We were booked to play at the Fillmore West, second on the bill to the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and above the great blues guitarist Albert King. […] We were following a master player and a musician we all looked up to. […] Mick Taylor excelled himself, and being sandwiched between two of the world’s best guitarists only seemed to bring out his best playing. In California, he was free of the shadows of his predecessors Clapton and Green. He proved himself to be their equal, and many said he was even better. […] I've seen or played with just about every line up, but few guitarists have matched Mick Taylor in 1968.” – Keef Hartley
“I’ve learned a lot from [Jimi]. He was extraordinary. His feeling for the rhythm, this energy and his fantastic finger-vibrato, it was all just gigantic.” – Mick Taylor on being influenced by Jimi Hendrix
“I'm not sure how I felt sharing the bill with Hendrix. Even in those early stages, a blind man could have seen he was a true star. We played together many times and I think I even asked him to play in the band around ’66 or ’67, but Jimi and I were both too independently minded to be together for any length of time. He is possibly the only guitarist I ever knew who was totally “as one” with his guitar. It didn't matter if it was a Fender or a Gibson, strung for a left-hander or a right-hander, he could just play it. And man, could he play it! He once picked up my 9 string and got sounds of it that I never believed existed. Amazing.” – John Mayall on sharing the bill with Hendrix
“[…] he invited me to join the Bluesbreakers. I’d always considered his band rubbish, but as it turned out it was very good – much better than I’d ever dreamed.” – Jon Hiseman
“Jon was really very taken aback when I asked him to join. He told me he knew next to nothing about blues and that he couldn’t care less about my music – but I told him I wasn’t too worried about that, I just admired his playing.” – John Mayall
“You’ve got seven people queuing up for a blow, most of them standing around doing nothing. I was just one of the seven joining in… It produced some exciting things, but was nearer to jazz than blues… Whole evenings would be instrumental, with just a couple of choruses at the beginning and end.” – John Mayall on why he split up the “Bare Wires” band
“I phoned Dick (Heckstall-Smith), Tony (Reeves) and Dave (Greenslade), who all wanted in. Then the grapevine started, and about a week later I got a phone call from Mayall. ‘I hear you’re leaving us’, he said with a laugh.” – Jon Hiseman on starting Colosseum and grapevines
“Mayall exploded and refused to pay the extra cost. They were yelling and screaming at each other. ‘I'm not paying for your bloody excursion!’ I heard Mayall shout. Then Taylor told him, ‘I quit.’ I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Here we were on our way to the hotel with the gig a few hours away and one of the guys isn’t going to play. It was an intense experience to say the least! I've never sweated nor pleaded so much in my life.” – Grant Boden, social events organiser for Winnipeg University
“Mick Taylor was brilliant that night. His playing was fluid with vibrato from heaven, and he was a great slide player, too. I was an important show for me as a young guitar player. Afterwards, a buddy of mine got me backstage, and I actually met them all! I was only 17!” – Danny Casavant, guitarist, about the gig after the argument
“Playing the sort of music, it gives you a lot of opportunity to develop your own ideas; it gives you a lot of freedom within the blues framework. So it did do me a lot of good being with John. He was only difficult to work with when I started to veer off towards other things. He’s not a difficult person to get on with really, though a lot of people seem to think so. You’d have complete freedom to do whatever you wanted.” – Mick Taylor about his time with John Mayall
“It was very enjoyable most of the time, until the last six months when I began to get fed up” – Taylor
Just want to chime in here and thank @JulesRules and others for keeping this thread moving along. I've been a bit absent from the forum for most of this year. Keep up the great work folks!
Your thread is too good to die so soon!
I wish I could say more about the albums themselves, but I've got too many things on my buying list. The next album I can actually say anything about is "The Turning Point"...
From Macclesfield To Laurel Canyon - uDiscover
Happy 84th Birthday John Mayall. What an amazing career. And what single person has done more to support the Blues!
Oh crikey, I completely forgot about his birthday. Will have to dig out some of my Mayall CDs again soon. Unfortunately the amount still hasn't increased (which probably would manifest itself in me taking over this thread...)
I saw Blues for the Lost Days in a shop recently and bought it. We've still got a long way to go until we reach that album, though...
What happened here? Mayall deserves a finish.
I'm still watching this thread...
As a side note: 28 years ago I got at the Paris flea market a copy of USA UNION, French pressing but in not good shape. Now while visiting Paris with the family, I tracked down at the same market a US pressing in NM condition (still not the textured sleeve though). I love this album.
The music on Bare Wires is great, but the sound quality sucks. Is there a better mastering of this album out there?
Spinning Coin is a great "later" album by Mayall.
John's birthday is coming up soon, and so are concerts (albeit next year).
He has a new album coming out as well. It has guest guitarists on the various tracks.
Due in February 2019
Nobody Told Me – John Mayall
01 What Have I Done Wrong (featuring Joe Bonamassa)
02 The Moon Is Full (featuring Larry McCray)
03 Evil And Here To Stay (featuring Alex Lifeson)
04 That’s What Love Will Make You Do (featuring Todd Rundgren)
05 Distant Lonesome Train (featuring Carolyn Wonderland)
06 Delta Hurricane (featuring Joe Bonamassa)
07 The Hurt Inside (featuring Larry McCray)
08 It’s So Tough (featuring Steven Van Zandt)
09 Like It Like You Do (featuring Carolyn Wonderland)
10 Nobody Told Me (featuring Carolyn Wonderland)
New album, nice!
New tour, in Europe, very cool. He is one artist I haven't seen live so far, and I just bought tickets for the concert in Stuttgart in April 2019.
I'd also be going to Stuttgart, if I can make up my mind. Too many gigs coming up already in that period for me, it's all happening at once...
This is actually:
John Mayalls Bluesbreakers - early 1968.
From left to right: Dick heckstall-Smith, John Mayall, Mick Taylor, Keef Hartley, Andy Fraser, Henry Lowther.
SEE VERY SIMILAR Picture taken from the book Heavy Load: The Story of Free by David Clayton and Todd Smith
Andy Fraser Interview: Starting out on bass & John Mayalls Bluesbreakers
Got tickets for his 85th anniversary tour!
Hey, that means we're at the same venue!!
Also I bought some of his albums recently, so I might be able to continue this thread soon.
I am planning to take my son along, age 22.
Separate names with a comma.