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Rock - Released January 1, 1972 | Polydor

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Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

This prophetically titled project represents yet another crossroad in John Mayall's ever evolving cast of prime British bluesmen. This album also signifies a distinct departure from the decibel-drowning electrified offerings of his previous efforts, providing instead an exceedingly more folk- and roots-based confab. The specific lineup featured here is conspicuous in its absence of a lead guitarist, primarily due to Mayall recommending himself out of his most recent string man. After the passing of Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones decided to tour and at the behest of Mick Jagger, Mayall suggested Mick Taylor -- who had been with him since Crusade (1967). Mayall gave this potentially negative situation a positive outcome by retooling the combo into an acoustic quartet featuring old friends as well as some vital new sonic textures. Mayall (vocals/harmonica/slide guitar/telecaster six-string/hand & mouth percussion) joined forces with former associates Steve Thompson (bass) and Johnny Almond (tenor & alto sax/flute/mouth percussion), then added the talents of Jon Mark (acoustic finger-style guitar). It becomes readily apparent that Mark's precision and tasteful improvisational skills place this incarnation into heady spaces. The taut interaction and wafting solos punctuating "So Hard to Share" exemplify the controlled intensity of Mayall's prior electrified outings. Likewise, Mark's intricate acoustics pierce through the growl of Mayall's haunting slide guitar solos on "Saw Mill Gulch Road." The Turning Point also examines a shift in Mayall's writing. The politically charged "Laws Must Change," the personal "I'm Gonna Fight for You J.B." and the incomparable "Room to Move" are tinged with Mayall's trademark sense of irony and aural imagery. ~ Lindsay Planer
$35.99

Rock - Released January 1, 2001 | Polydor

For this double-LP recorded in November 1970, John Mayall gathered together prominent musicians who had played in his bands during the past several years, including Sugarcane Harris, Eric Clapton, Johnny Almond, Harvey Mandel, Keef Hartley, and Mick Taylor. Mayall's compositions aren't all that impressive, but the sidemen frequently shine, especially Clapton. Back to the Roots hit number 52 in the U.S. and number 31 in the U.K. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released January 1, 1997 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Universal Records

John Mayall's "Turning Point" band -- Jon Mark, Johnny Almond, and Steve Thompson -- broke up in June 1970 after a European tour, with Mark and Almond forming their own band, appropriately named Mark-Almond. Mayall then assembled his first all-American band, consisting of violinist Don "Sugarcane" Harris, guitarist Harvey Mandel, and bassist Larry Taylor, and recorded this album in July. It had more drive than the previous outfit, and Mayall turned to environmentalism on the lead-off track, "Nature's Disappearing." (The original album jacket contained recycling information, too.) But much of his low-volume, reflective approach remained on an album that was still more of a jazz-pop outing than the blues sessions of his early career. Although The Turning Point is Mayall's biggest U.S. seller, USA Union had the highest chart peak of his career, hitting #22. But in the U.K., where its title confirmed Mayall's U.S. leanings (he had been living in California for two years), the album showed a big drop-off in his usual sales, spending only one week in the charts at #50. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Rock - Released January 1, 1992 | Polydor

The majority of Mayall and the Bluesbreakers' best material from the early '70s is collected on this 29-track, double-disc set. Although Clapton appears on a couple of songs, the playing on Room to Move isn't as universally breathtaking as it is on London Blues, but the collection is thoroughly listenable, and it does feature many fine musicians. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1996 | Universal Records

This was John Mayall's studio-recorded follow-up to the live The Turning Point, featuring the same drumless quartet of himself, guitarist Jon Mark, reed player Johnny Almond, and bassist Steve Thompson. Mayall was at a commercial and critical peak with this folk-jazz approach; the album's leadoff track, "Don't Waste My Time," had become his sole singles chart entry prior to the LP's release, and although his former label, London, confused matters by releasing the two-year-old Diary of a Band, Vol. 1 in the U.S. just before this new album appeared in early 1970, the new crop of fans he'd found with The Turning Point stuck with him on this gentle, reflective release. Empty Rooms hit Number 33 in the U.S.; in the U.K. it got to Number Nine. ~ William Ruhlmann
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Pop - Released January 1, 2007 | Decca - Pop

On its own terms, most of this 14-track compilation of 1965-1967 recordings for BBC sessions (all but one of them dating from 1965-1967) is a worthwhile collection of supplementary work by John Mayall's best Bluesbreakers lineups. If you're a serious Mayall fan, however, be aware that you might have already bought this material in some form or another in the year or so previous to the release of this CD in early 2007. For the dozen 1965-1967 cuts all appear as bonus material on the 2006 U.K. expanded CD editions of the John Mayall Plays John Mayall, Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, and A Hard Road albums, all of which also include bonus tracks from non-LP singles, studio outtakes, and the like. If for some reason you do want to zero in on the BBC material exclusively, this has some decent live performances with both the Eric Clapton and Peter Green lineups of the Bluesbreakers. (The liner notes also admit it's likely that the three tracks from October 25, 1965 feature not only Jack Bruce on bass during his brief Bluesbreakers stint, but also guitarist Jeff Kribit (sometimes spelled Geoff Krivit in other sources), who was in the group during a brief spell when Clapton left the band to go to Greece.) The BBC takes here of songs that also appear on Mayall's official '60s releases aren't as good as the studio versions (and are sometimes very similar), but are still well done, though on the five tracks on which Clapton appears, he doesn't seem to be playing with as much fire as he was capable of mustering. Of special interest are a few songs that Mayall didn't put on his official '60s recordings in any form, including a cover of Willie Dixon and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Bye Bye Bird" and (from the October 1965 session) two decent original Mayall compositions, "Cheating Woman" and "Nowhere to Turn." Also note that while Mayall was leading the Peter Green version of the Bluesbreakers on the four songs from a January 23, 1967 session, it's Mayall playing alone on one of these tracks, "No More Tears," which would appear on his The Blues Alone LP. The two songs that end the CD are from an October 21, 1975 session, and are of far less interest than the other material, dating from a time where Mayall was a few years past his creative peak and leading a much less interesting band. ~ Richie Unterberger
$8.99

Blues - Released January 1, 1969 | Universal Records

This prophetically titled project represents yet another crossroad in John Mayall's ever evolving cast of prime British bluesmen. This album also signifies a distinct departure from the decibel-drowning electrified offerings of his previous efforts, providing instead an exceedingly more folk- and roots-based confab. The specific lineup featured here is conspicuous in its absence of a lead guitarist, primarily due to Mayall recommending himself out of his most recent string man. After the passing of Brian Jones, the Rolling Stones decided to tour and at the behest of Mick Jagger, Mayall suggested Mick Taylor -- who had been with him since Crusade (1967). Mayall gave this potentially negative situation a positive outcome by retooling the combo into an acoustic quartet featuring old friends as well as some vital new sonic textures. Mayall (vocals/harmonica/slide guitar/telecaster six-string/hand & mouth percussion) joined forces with former associates Steve Thompson (bass) and Johnny Almond (tenor & alto sax/flute/mouth percussion), then added the talents of Jon Mark (acoustic finger-style guitar). It becomes readily apparent that Mark's precision and tasteful improvisational skills place this incarnation into heady spaces. The taut interaction and wafting solos punctuating "So Hard to Share" exemplify the controlled intensity of Mayall's prior electrified outings. Likewise, Mark's intricate acoustics pierce through the growl of Mayall's haunting slide guitar solos on "Saw Mill Gulch Road." The Turning Point also examines a shift in Mayall's writing. The politically charged "Laws Must Change," the personal "I'm Gonna Fight for You J.B." and the incomparable "Room to Move" are tinged with Mayall's trademark sense of irony and aural imagery. ~ Lindsay Planer
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Miscellaneous - Released December 19, 2016 | Lemon

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Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | Geffen* Records

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Rock - Released January 1, 1971 | Universal Records

Having gone Back to the Roots, John Mayall returned to his forward-looking musical explorations with 1971's Memories, the true follow-up to USA Union, on which he retained bassist Larry Taylor, replaced Harvey Mandel with guitarist Jerry McGee of The Ventures, and dropped Sugarcane Harris, for an unusually small trio session. Actually, he was still looking back on a set of autobiographical lyrics about growing up, starting with the title track, and including "Grandad," and "Back from Korea." (Forced to compete with the simultaneous release of the London Records compilation Thru the Years, Memories managed to reach only Number 179 in the U.S. charts.) ~ William Ruhlmann
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Blues - Released January 1, 1976 | Geffen

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Pop - Released January 1, 1988 | Universal Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 1976 | Geffen* Records

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Blues - Released January 11, 2019 | Sanctuary Records

For John Mayall fans, especially those of his '70s period (good Lord, the man has had more bands than anyone except for Duke Ellington and Count Basie), this live CD from 1971 is a curious, and perhaps a treasured thing. Recorded in Canada between 1970 and 1971, these shows -- all in fine sound quality -- reveal the sheer magic of the Bluesbreakers when bassist Larry Taylor, guitarist Harvey Mandel, and drummer Paul Lagos were almost consistently in the band, and others such as violinist Don "Sugarcane" Harris, drummer Keef Hartley, trumpeter Blue Mitchell, guitarist Freddy Robinson, and even Victor Gaskin were either members or guests, briefly. It was a fully fluid time of transition for Mayall, but the blues he was putting down were some of the rawest, most immediate and funky of his career. Mayall has led great bands since that time, and this is one of those arguments for checking the man's later work as well. This particular version of the Bluesbreakers never got their due at the time, though they were one of the hottest acts around musically. There is no use singling out particular tunes because everything on this two-CD set simply rocks. Get it. ~ Thom Jurek
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Blues - Released January 1, 1977 | Geffen* Records

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Blues - Released January 1, 1999 | Eagle Rock

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Rock - Released January 1, 1999 | Eagle Rock Entertainment

If you are a hardcore John Mayall fan, the vintage photograph of "the Guv'nor" gracing this rather generic budget cover of The Masters looks like it may be a come on -- until you read the subtitle: "Music from the Original Film Soundtrack the Turning Point." At that point, you will more than likely flip it over for a gander at the back of the sleeve, and offer a low whistle of surprise and delight. Eagle Rock Entertainment has issued a pair of double-discs of classic Mayall material, of which this is the first. The set is divided up into two well-edited parts. Disc one includes the new drummerless Bluesbreakers' first performance at Civic Hall in Plymouth, MI in June of 1969. In other words, these are the first versions of some of the music released on the Turning Point LP that was recorded during the same tour a month later. The band featured reed boss Johnny Almond, guitarist Jon Mark, and bassist Steve Thompson; Mayall played his Telecaster, harmonica, and some odd mouth percussion as was his wont in those days. There are three cuts from this performance -- including an eight-plus minute "Room to Move." The sound quality is good, not excellent, but these source tapes are ancient and it was a film crew doing the recording. The performance is more than worth it, however. On down the track list are four cuts caught a few days later at Lucarno University in York. The disc ends with a pair of tunes from York University a week later. The only bizarre thing about this disc is that there are two versions of "I'm Gonna Fight for You JB," back to back, but from different nights. Disc two is a wondrous bit of collected curios. It begins with a killer live performance of "Parchman Farm" recorded in May of 1969 with Mick Taylor -- presumably among his last with the band before joining the Rolling Stones. There are also rehearsals with the new band, and interviews with Mayall, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and John McVie, as well as informal workouts of material that would appear on Room to Move -- including a wild instrumental jam called "Bill Haley Lives." For those of us who loved the British blues from Graham Bond and Alexis Korner to Mayall, this set is indispensable. ~ Thom Jurek
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Blues - Released January 1, 2009 | Eagle Rock

John Mayall's lengthy, ever-growing discography is so littered with reissues of various sorts that it may not be readily apparent that he continues to make new albums regularly, about one every couple of years. Since Tough, recorded and released in 2009 when Mayall was 75 years old, is his follow-up to 2007's In the Palace of the King, which was billed as his 56th LP, that would make it his 57th. Unlike its predecessor, a tribute to Freddie King, Tough has no particular theme. It is simply a representative collection of songs in various blues and blues-rock styles, played and sung by Mayall with a band including long-serving keyboardist Tom Canning, guitarist Rocky Athas, and bassist Greg Rzab. Athas gets to make like Jimi Hendrix on the hard rocker "Train to My Heart," and takes a blistering solo on the closer, "The Sum of Something," which also gives Canning an organ feature. Mayall has personal reflections to make on some of his original compositions. "Slow Train to Nowhere," which highlights his piano playing, is also a cautionary tale about recovering from bad behavior. "Tough Times Ahead" is concerned with the economic crisis that gripped the world in the run-up to the recording sessions in March 2009: "Banks are closing daily, and recession's coming back again." And "That Good Old Rockin' Blues" is the songwriter's defense of the music he loves in the face of trendier styles. "I hate rap music with a passion that you've never seen," he declares. That's no surprise. And Tough won't surprise anyone who has heard even a few of Mayall's earlier recordings. At 75, he just keeps on playing the blues. ~ William Ruhlmann