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Blues - Released June 22, 1966 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton was Eric Clapton's first fully realized album as a blues guitarist -- more than that, it was a seminal blues album of the 1960s, perhaps the best British blues album ever cut, and the best LP ever recorded by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Standing midway between Clapton's stint with the Yardbirds and the formation of Cream, this album featured the new guitar hero on a series of stripped-down blues standards, Mayall pieces, and one Mayall/Clapton composition, all of which had him stretching out in the idiom for the first time in the studio. This album was the culmination of a very successful year of playing with John Mayall, a fully realized blues creation, featuring sounds very close to the group's stage performances, and with no compromises. Credit has to go to producer Mike Vernon for the purity and simplicity of the record; most British producers of that era wouldn't have been able to get it recorded this way, much less released. One can hear the very direct influence of Buddy Guy and a handful of other American bluesmen in the playing. And lest anyone forget the rest of the quartet: future pop/rock superstar John McVie and drummer Hughie Flint provide a rock-hard rhythm section, and Mayall's organ playing, vocalizing, and second guitar are all of a piece with Clapton's work. His guitar naturally dominates most of this record, and he can also be heard taking his first lead vocal, but McVie and Flint are just as intense and give the tracks an extra level of steel-strung tension and power, none of which have diminished across several decades. © Bruce Eder /TiVo
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Rock - Released July 22, 1966 | Universal Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 2007 | UMC-Decca

Mayall's first post-Bluesbreakers album saw the man returning to his roots after the jazz/blues fusion that was Bare Wires. Blues from Laurel Canyon is a blues album, through and through. Testimony to this is the fact that there's a guitar solo only 50 seconds into the opening track. Indeed, Mayall dispersed the entire brass section for Blues from Laurel Canyon, and instead chose the solid but relatively limited backing of Mick Taylor (guitar), Colin Allen (drums), and Stephen Thompson (bass). Instantly, it is apparent that John Mayall hasn't lost his touch with the blues. "Vacation," the album's opener, reminds one exactly why this artist is so celebrated for his songwriting ability. The staggering Mick Taylor (here still in his teens) truly proves his worth as a blues guitarist, while Steve Thompson (also in his late teens) works superbly with one of the genre's most interesting drummers, Colin Allen. Blues from Laurel Canyon is as unerring as Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, and equally as musically interesting. Not only is this one of the finest John Mayall albums, it is also a highlight in the blues genus. © Ben Davies /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 2006 | UMC-Decca

Eric Clapton is usually thought of as John Mayall's most important right-hand man, but the case could also be made for his successor, Peter Green. The future Fleetwood Mac founder leaves a strong stamp on his only album with the Bluesbreakers, singing a few tracks and writing a couple, including the devastating instrumental "Supernatural." Green's use of thick sustain on this track clearly pointed the way to his use of guitar riffs with elongated, slithery tones on Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" and "Black Magic Woman," as well as anticipating some aspects of Carlos Santana's style. Mayall acquits himself fairly well on this mostly original set (with occasional guest horns), though some of the material is fairly mundane. Highlights include the uncharacteristically rambunctious "Leaping Christine" and the cover of Freddie King's "Someday After a While (You'll Be Sorry)." © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Blues - Released November 18, 2003 | earMUSIC Classics

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Blues - Released January 1, 2007 | UMC-Decca

The final album of an (unintentional) trilogy, Crusade is most notable for the appearance of a very young, pre-Rolling Stones Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Taylor's performance is indeed the highlight, just as Eric Clapton and Peter Green's playing was on the previous album. The centerpiece of the album is a beautiful instrumental by Taylor titled "Snowy Wood," which, while wholly original, seems to combine both Green and Clapton's influence with great style and sensibility. The rest of the record, while very enjoyable, is standard blues-rock fare of the day, but somewhat behind the then-progressive flavor of 1967. Mayall, while being one of the great bandleaders of London, simply wasn't really the frontman that the group needed so desperately, especially then. Nevertheless, Crusade is important listening for Mick Taylor aficionados. © Matthew Greenwald /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1989 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

When Island Records released Chicago Line in 1988, they were picking up an existing recording for U.S. distribution. A Sense Of Place, on the other hand, represents John Mayall's full-fledged return to major-label record-making, with all the good and bad things that implies, from a high-profile producer, R.S. Field, to the introduction of such cover material as Wilbert Harrison's "Let's Work Together" and J.J. Cale's "Sensitive Kind." Mayall's Bluesbreakers seem to have been fragmenting at this point -- guitarist Walter Trout is gone, bassist Bobby Haynes is replaced on most tracks by Freebo, a veteran who worked for years with Bonnie Raitt, and Sonny Landreth is now credited as "guest slide guitarist." That leaves Coco Montoya and Joe Yuele from the unit Mayall has led since the mid-'80s, plus session aces like Tim Drummond. Field uses a spare production style, light on atmosphere and heavy, as is the current fashion, on unusual percussion. This makes for an identifiable sound, to be sure, but you can't help thinking that it isn't what the Bluesbreakers sound like on a good night in a small club. The result, as intended, was Mayall's first chart appearance in 15 years, although as a commercial comeback, the record ultimately failed. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1967 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Eric Clapton is usually thought of as John Mayall's most important right-hand man, but the case could also be made for his successor, Peter Green. The future Fleetwood Mac founder leaves a strong stamp on his only album with the Bluesbreakers, singing a few tracks and writing a couple, including the devastating instrumental "Supernatural." Green's use of thick sustain on this track clearly pointed the way to his use of guitar riffs with elongated, slithery tones on Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross" and "Black Magic Woman," as well as anticipating some aspects of Carlos Santana's style. Mayall acquits himself fairly well on this mostly original set (with occasional guest horns), though some of the material is fairly mundane. Highlights include the uncharacteristically rambunctious "Leaping Christine" and the cover of Freddie King's "Someday After a While (You'll Be Sorry)." © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Blues - Released August 26, 2002 | earMUSIC Classics

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Rock - Released January 1, 1967 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

The final album of an (unintentional) trilogy, Crusade is most notable for the appearance of a very young, pre-Rolling Stones Mick Taylor on lead guitar. Taylor's performance is indeed the highlight, just as Eric Clapton and Peter Green's playing was on the previous album. The centerpiece of the album is a beautiful instrumental by Taylor titled "Snowy Wood," which, while wholly original, seems to combine both Green and Clapton's influence with great style and sensibility. The rest of the record, while very enjoyable, is standard blues-rock fare of the day, but somewhat behind the then-progressive flavor of 1967. Mayall, while being one of the great bandleaders of London, simply wasn't really the frontman that the group needed so desperately, especially then. Nevertheless, Crusade is important listening for Mick Taylor aficionados. © Matthew Greenwald /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1989 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

Reasonably interesting collection of non-LP singles from 1964 to 1968, featuring almost all of the notable musicians that passed through the Bluesbreakers throughout the decade. "Sitting in the Rain" (with Peter Green) showcases fine fingerpicking, the haunting "Jenny" is one of Mayall's best originals, and "Stormy Monday" is one of the few cuts from 1966 that briefly featured both Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce. The rest is largely passably pleasant... © Richie Unterberger /TiVo
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Pop - Released April 6, 1993 | Silvertone

Fuelled by Coco Montoya's searing but economical string-slashing, drummer Joe Yuele, and bassist Rick Cortes, John Mayall has managed to keep a stable core of Bluesbreakers together in recent years. Mayall rarely does the same album twice, and Wake Up Call finds him returning to a basic, physical sound after 1990's more progressive/highly produced A Sense of Place. The harp whiz has rarely flirted with the pop charts over the decades, a track record that will likely handicap the title track - a potential hit featuring guest vocalist Mavis Staples and some take-charge riffing from former mate Mick Taylor. For pure guitar joy though, Montoya turns the trick all on his own with barnburners "Loaded Dice" and "Nature's Disappearing." © Roch Parisien /TiVo
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Rock - Released January 1, 1999 | earMUSIC Classics

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Pop - Released January 1, 1995 | Silvertone

Somehow the grandfather of British blues still had the fire in his belly to record a strong album almost 40 years after he began his storied career. Buddy Whittington acquits himself well as the latest in a long line of hotshot guitarists for this multi-instrumentalist, who still does his best work on harmonica. He still admires long-dead bluesman J.B. Lenoir, including "Voodoo Music" here. A lot of credit for this strong outing goes to R.S. Field, lyricist and sometime producer for Webb Wilder. "Long Story Short" would pass for a Wilder tune were it not for Mayall's distinctive voice. © Mark Allan /TiVo
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Pop - Released November 10, 1998 | Silvertone

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Pop - Released April 6, 1993 | Silvertone

Fuelled by Coco Montoya's searing but economical string-slashing, drummer Joe Yuele, and bassist Rick Cortes, John Mayall has managed to keep a stable core of Bluesbreakers together in recent years. Mayall rarely does the same album twice, and Wake Up Call finds him returning to a basic, physical sound after 1990's more progressive/highly produced A Sense of Place. The harp whiz has rarely flirted with the pop charts over the decades, a track record that will likely handicap the title track - a potential hit featuring guest vocalist Mavis Staples and some take-charge riffing from former mate Mick Taylor. For pure guitar joy though, Montoya turns the trick all on his own with barnburners "Loaded Dice" and "Nature's Disappearing." © Roch Parisien /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 1, 1988 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

John Mayall's first new studio album to be released in the U.S. in more than a decade shows that his current crop of Bluesbreakers -- Coco Montoya, Walter Trout, Bobby Haynes, and Joe Yuele -- who have been together longer than any previous outfit, play like a seasoned blues band, sparking each other (especially guitarists Montoya and Trout), and never falling into complacency. Mayall presides over the music without dominating it, which makes The Bluesbreakers more of a group than they've been since the '60s. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Blues - Released June 6, 2005 | earMUSIC Classics

John Mayall's stature in the world of blues-rock cannot be understated, as his Bluesbreakers outfit was the launching pad for such renowned players as Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, and Peter Green. And while there are no musicians as recognizable as Clapton on the Bluesbreakers' 2005 release, Road Dogs, Mayall (who handles vocals, piano, harmonica, guitar, and synthesizer duties) has assembled a worthy supporting cast -- Joe Yuele (drums), Buddy Whittington (guitar), Hank Van Sickle (bass) and Tom Canning (organ/piano). While the production may be a bit "cleaner" than it was on his classic-'60s era work, Road Dogs should definitely please fans of modern day blues-rock. As evidenced by the solo on "So Glad," Whittington has obviously studied his Clapton, while Mayall and co. have no problem cooking up a bluesy swamp stomp on the title track. Elsewhere, "To Heal the Pain" puts forth the usual "love is the answer" message -- and while it's an amiable message, others have similarly regurgitated it countless times over the years. Of course, Road Dogs is not the groundbreaking blues-rock of 1966's Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton (aka "The Beano Album"), but it shows that the veteran bluesman is still rockin' along at the age of 71. And most importantly, Mayall is remaining true to the style he helped popularize decades ago. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Blues - Released March 5, 2007 | earMUSIC Classics

It's common knowledge that two of the most renowned blues guitarists of all time happened to share the same last name (no relation though): B.B. King and Albert King. But there was also another "King" of the blues, Freddie King, and while he doesn't seem to rake in the same amount of accolades as the other two players, blues buffs far and wide know Freddie was a force to be reckoned with. And one of his biggest admirers through the years has been John Mayall, whose band, the Bluesbreakers, has been covering Freddie King songs since their inception in the '60s. However, on his 56th album overall (!), Mayall offers an album's worth of songs that Freddie King had either written, inspired, or was "closely associated with," for 2007's In the Palace of the King. Stylistically similar to Mayall's last studio effort (2005's solid Road Dogs), Palace is full of tasty blues guitar throughout, with Buddy Whittington supplying the lion's share of the lead work, especially on such standouts as "Palace of the King." But one of the album's undisputed highlights is "Cannonball Shuffle," an instrumental track that features some fine soloing from Robben Ford (who also solely penned the tune). And for guitarists who are looking to jam along with the album, Mayall was kind enough to list what key each song is in (inside the CD booklet). In the Palace of the King is a much-deserved tribute to one of the blues' greatest yet oft-overlooked guitarists. © Greg Prato /TiVo
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Blues - Released March 26, 1965 | UMC-Decca

John Mayall's debut album, recorded live in December 1964, is a little unjustly overlooked, as it was recorded shortly before the first of the famous guitarists schooled in the Bluesbreakers (Eric Clapton) joined the band. With Roger Dean on guitar (and the rhythm section who'd play on the Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton album, bassist John McVie and drummer Hughie Flint), it has more of a rock/R&B feel, rather like the early Rolling Stones, than the purer bluesier material Mayall would usually stick to in his subsequent recordings. The record doesn't suffer for this, however, moving along quite powerfully, and -- unusually for a British R&B/blues band of the time -- featuring almost nothing but original material, all penned by Mayall. Nigel Stanger's saxophone adds interesting touches to a few tracks, the songs are quite good, and while Dean's guitar and Mayall's vocals aren't on the same level as the best instrumentalists and singers in the British blues-rock movement, they're satisfactory. [The 2006 U.K. expanded CD edition added five enjoyable cuts that round up everything else recorded by the pre-Eric Clapton version of the Bluesbreakers, including the 1964 single "Crawling Up a Hill"/"Mr. James"; the early 1965 single "Crocodile Walk"/"Blues City Shakedown"; and the February 1965 outtake "My Baby Is Sweeter," which first showed up on the early-'70s British compilation Thru the Years. "Crawling Up a Hill" and "Crocodile Walk" also appear on the original John Mayall Plays John Mayall album in live performances, but the bonus track versions are entirely different studio recordings done for those non-LP singles, and are pretty good as well.] © Richie Unterberger /TiVo