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John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers and Friends
70th Birthday Concert

Review: 220
Date: 25 Mar 05

 


Rating: 5 Stars

Musicians:
John Mayall – Piano, Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals
Buddy Whitington – Guitar & Vocals
Joe Yuele – Drums
Hank Van Sickle – Bass Guitar
Tom Canning – Organ & Piano

Special thanks to guest artists:
Eric Clapton – Guitar & Vocals (appears courtesy of Reprise Records)
Chris Barber – Trombone
Mick Taylor – Guitar

Tracks Listing: see below...

 


On the occasion of John Mayall's 70th Birthday, the father of the British blues boom held a special concert at Liverpool docks on July 19th, 2003. Thankfully the concert was recorded for posterity, as it is - without doubt - the finest British blues album in decades.

The music kicks off with a couple of numbers from the Bluesbreakers minus their illustrious leader. Although this sets the standards for the rest of the night already very high, things really start to cook when the great man arrives and whips out his harmonica for their third song. After a few more numbers the festivities truly begin with the introduction of Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Now remember, Mick Taylor originally made his name with the Bluesbreakers before he was poached away by the glimmer twins for a five year stint as a Rolling Stone. Mick Taylor has certainly lost none of his chops and leads the ensemble through a riotous collection of blues and boogie.

Then Mick Taylor leaves the stage to give space to John Mayall's most famous protégé, a certain Mr. Eric ’Slowhand’ Clapton. The selection of songs from the seminal John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers album featuring Eric Clapton, let’s one step back and wonder with awe.

Next up is the inspired inclusion of Chris Barber on trombone, who sets up some wonderful duels with Clapton. In the late fifties Chris Barber was responsible for bringing over to the British shores such artists as 'Big Bill Broonzy’, Sister Rossetta Tharpe, Sonny Terry, and the great Muddy Waters. So, who knows what state the British music would be in without the introduction of these American greats to further inspire the likes of 'The Beatles’, 'The Kinks', and 'The Pretty Things'?

Although all these great musicians are on stage, the actual Bluesbreakers are never overawed. In the contrary, they leave the featured artist space to excel, none more than to the man himself - John Mayall. Mayall, entering his eighth decade, shows no sign of slowing down or losing his amazing abilities.

The concert is brought to a climax with twenty-five minutes of encores with the entire cast on stage. Everybody fights for space to solo, but usually politely await their turns. The whole thing really rocks.

At just over two and a half hours there is not a moment on this two disc set that is not covered in magic. The concert was recorded for DVD, which is also available.

It is quite fun to have a look at all the artists who could of been invited to this show, who have at one time or another passed through the ranks of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. There's Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton's old running buddy in Cream. The third part of that particular trio, Ginger Baker, also played with the Bluesbreakers once, but only sitting in for a jam on the drums. Peter Green; John McVie; Mick Fleetwood, who left Mayall to form Fleetwood Mac; Aynsley Dunbar; a fifteen year old Andy Fraser of Free fame, and Micky Waller. John Hiseman, Tony Reeves, and Dick Heckstall-Smith who all sneaked off together to form Colosseum. Keef Hartley; Hughie Flint…. Oh! the list is endless, but it does go to show how important John Mayall and his Bluesbreakers are to British blues.

After a particularly brilliant interchange between Clapton and Barber, which brings 'Have You Heard' to a dramatic finish, John Mayall shouts from the stage “The blues does not get better than that”. The man is correct.

 

Bluesed by Mott the Dog
Slid past by Ella Crew

E-mail: review@mott-the-dog.com


Disc One
1. Grits Ain’t Groceries – Bluesbreakers
2. Jacksboro Highway – Bluesbreakers
3. Southside Story – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
4. Kids Got The Blues – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
5. Dirty Water – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
6. Somebody’s Acting Like A Child – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
7. Blues For The Lost Days – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
8. Walking On Sunset – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
9. Oh, Pretty Woman – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Taylor
10. No Big Hurry – Mayall/Clapton

Disc Two
1. Please Mr. Lofton – Mayall/Clapton/Barber
2. Hideaway – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
3. All Your Love – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton
4. Have You Heard – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
5. Hoochie Coochie Man – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
6. I’m Tore Down – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Barber
7. It Ain’t Right – Mayall/Bluesbreakers
8. California – Mayall/Bluresbreakers/Taylor/Barber/Lowther
9. Talk To Your Daughter – Mayall/Bluesbreakers/Clapton/Taylor/Barber

 


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