Friday, 18 October 2019

John Mayall - Alabama Blues (1968)

Following the departure of Peter Green, Mayall once again needed a new guitarist, and his first choice was 18-year-old David O'List, guitarist from the Attack. O'List declined, however, and went on to form The Nice with organist Keith Emerson, so Mayall placed a 'musicians wanted' ad in Melody Maker and also conducted his own search, and eventually found three other potential guitarists for his Bluesbreakers, Terry Edmonds, John Moorshead (later to join The Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation), and 18-year-old Mick Taylor. The latter made the band quickly, but Mayall also decided to hire Edmonds as a rhythm guitarist for a few days. In the meantime, he assembled a studio album to showcase his own abilities, with former Artwoods drummer Keef Hartley drumming on half the tracks, and everything else being played by Mayall himself, with 'The Blues Alone' coming out in 1967. 
A six-piece line-up consisting of Mayall, Mick Taylor as lead guitarist, John McVie still on bass, Hughie Flint or Hartley on drums, and Rip Kant and Chris Mercer on saxophones, recorded the album 'Crusade' in 1967, and following it's release the band spent most of the year touring abroad, with Mayall taping the shows on his portable recorder. At the end of the tour, he had over sixty hours of tapes, which he edited into an album in two volumes: 'Diary Of A Band Vol 1' and 'Diary Of A Band Vol 2', released in February 1968. Meanwhile, a few line-up changes had occurred: McVie had departed for Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac, and was replaced by Paul Williams, who soon quit to join Alan Price and was himself replaced by Keith Tillman, with Dick Heckstall-Smith taking over the saxophone spot. Following a US tour, there were more line-up changes, starting with the troublesome bass position. First Mayall replaced bassist Tillman with 15-year-old Andy Fraser, but within six weeks Fraser left to join Free and was replaced by Tony Reeves, previously a member of the New Jazz Orchestra. Hartley was required to leave, and he was replaced by New Jazz Orchestra drummer Jon Hiseman, and Henry Lowther, who played violin and cornet, joined in February 1968. 
Two months later this line-up of The Bluesbreakers recorded 'Bare Wires', before Hiseman, Reeves, and Heckstall-Smith moved on to form Colosseum. Mayall managed to retain Mick Taylor and added drummer Colin Allen bassist Stephen Thompson, and in 1968 the new quartet recorded the superb 'Blues From Laurel Canyon'. The final post of this series collects the remaining tracks from 'Raw Blues', some previously unreleased tracks featuring Peter Green, Taylor's first single with the band 'Suspicions', and topped off with two great unreleased tracks from the 'Bare Wires' sessions. Despite the unbelievably turbulent history of the Bluesbreakers, I hope that these posts show that in their many incarnations they produced some of the best British blues ever recorded. 



Track listing

01 Evil Woman Blues (from 'Raw Blues' 1967)   
02 Missing You (previously unreleased 1967)   
03 Greeny (previously unreleased 1967)  
04 Milkman Strut (from 'Raw Blues' 1967) 
05 Suspicions (Part One) (single 1967)    
06 Suspicions (Part Two) (b-side of 'Suspicions (Part One))  
07 Mama Talk To Your Daughter (previously unreleased 1967)  
08 Alabama Blues (previously unreleased 1967) 
09 Your Funeral And My Trial (previously unreleased 1967)    
10 Jenny (single 1968) 
11 Picture On The Wall (b-side of 'Jenny')  
12 Knockers Step Forward (previously unreleased 1968)   
13 Hide And Seek (previously unreleased 1968)    

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