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John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers - Live In 1967 – Volume Two album review

Second pickings from the holy grail.

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers Live In 1967 – Volume Two album review

Nobody who bought the first volume of John Mayall live in 1967 with Peter Green last year will need persuading to snap up the second. After all, it’s not often that previously unreleased reality lives up to legend. The shoddy sound quality – recorded with a hand-held mic onto a reel-to-reel tape recorder – is no deterrent – that’s what club gigs sounded like back then, before mixing desks and monitors.

Neither is the fact that three songs are repeated from Volume One. They were recorded at different shows and demonstrate why fans would follow the band around London, because no two shows were ever the same. The three tracks – So Many Roads, Double Trouble and Stormy Monday – are all slow blues with Green dripping notes around Mayall’s vocal lines before heading off on his own solo, all of it done ‘in the moment’.

By the same token, it’s hard to describe Volume Two as the leftovers. It’s just the second selection made by Mayall and engineer Eric Corne based, one assumes, on the performance, although audio quality probably came into it, something that afflicts Mayall’s harmonica-driven Bye Bye Bird.

Peter Green’s performances on the opening Tears In My Eyes, A Hard Road and the instrumental Greeny are truly spellbinding, and if you’re looking for evidence that this version of the Bluesbreakers – with John McVie and Mick Fleetwood as the rhythm section – was as good as it got for John Mayall, then the lively Your Funeral And My Trial and Please Don’t Tell should suffice.

Hugh Fielder has been writing about music for 47 years. Actually 58 if you include the essay he wrote about the Rolling Stones in exchange for taking time off school to see them at the Ipswich Gaumont in 1964. He was news editor of Sounds magazine from 1975 to 1992 and editor of Tower Records Top magazine from 1992 to 2001. Since then he has been freelance. He has interviewed the great, the good and the not so good and written books about some of them. His favourite possession is a piece of columnar basalt he brought back from Iceland.