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Newly Released 1967 Recording Offers Deep Dive Into British Blues

  • Reuters

British Blues pioneer John Mayall performs with his band the Bluesbreakers at the "Deutsche Museum" (German Museum) in Munich, Jan. 21, 1970.

British Blues pioneer John Mayall performs with his band the Bluesbreakers at the "Deutsche Museum" (German Museum) in Munich, Jan. 21, 1970.

A blues fan's 1967 reel-to-reel tape recording of four then-relatively unknown British musicians is to be released on CD in April, capturing live what today would be dubbed a supergroup.

John Mayall, Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie were together for just three months that year as part of Mayall's Bluesbreakers band.

The music was recorded in five clubs in and around London, including The Marquee and The Ram Jam. It is, for blues aficionados, an immersion into musical history. And it sounds like a 1960s live electric blues performance should: rough, echoey, raw.

The four musicians all went on to various degrees of fame.

Mayall is still an active blues man at 81, the "godfather" of the British electric blues that swept the country in the 1960s and helped promote it beyond its black roots base back in the United States.

At various times and in various incarnations, his band has featured Cream's Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, The Rolling Stones' Mick Taylor, Canned Heat's Harvey Mandel, and ubiquitous drummer Aynsley Dunbar.

Green, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is considered one of the world's great electric guitarists. He dropped out of sight for a number of years with mental illness before re-emerging with various bands.

His song "Black Magic Woman" was a global hit for Latin rocker Santana.

Bassist McVie and drummer Fleetwood formed Fleetwood Mac, at first a blues band with Green, then later with a new line-up one of the most successful pop-rock groups of all time.

The new release - "John Mayall's Blues Breakers - Live In 1967" - was restored by Forty Below Records. It is suitably basic and the company admits it is "certainly not hi-fidelity."

Among the more interesting tracks are "I Can't Quit You Baby", a Willie Dixon song that later graced Led Zeppelin's debut album.

There is also a rollicking version of "Hi Heel Sneakers" and a leisurely "Stormy Monday" along with 10 other tracks.

The album is to be released on April 20 in Britain and April 21 in the United States. It ain't pretty - but it's the blues.

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