Sunday, November 23, 2008

John Mayall's The Turning Point

In the fall of 1969 while I was wearing out my copy of The Band's second album (See my last post), I was also listening to this classic album by English blues legend John Mayall. Most of Mayall's early fame revolves around his work with Eric Clapton and the Blues Breakers album recorded in 1966 (See my post of August 30). That album is very representative of the music that Mayall was making at the time. It was guitar based Chicago blues as interpreted by a band of English players.

  Mayall's band was a training ground for many of  the best English musicians of that day. In addition to Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, John McVie, Mick Fleetwood and Jack Bruce were members of the band for varying amounts of time. When Mick Taylor left for the Rolling Stones to replace Brian Jones in 1968, Mayall moved on from that electric guitar blues format to something new.

The Turning Point is the product of that change of direction. Recorded at the Fillmore East on July 12, 1969, the album featured a band that may be the most unusual in Mayall's long history. Besides Mayall on vocals, harmonica and guitar, the band included Steve Thompson on bass, Johnny Almond on sax and flute, and Jon Mark on acoustic finger-style guitar. No drums or lead guitar created a very different sound. The music is a folk, blues and jazz fusion that must have been a surprise to the fans at the Fillmore that night. It is no surprise today that the music still sounds great almost 40 years later. It reflects the taste and the genius of one of England premier blues men.

 The album kicks off with The Laws Must Change and Mayall's tasty harmonica. On So Hard To Share and California, Mayall's vocals and Almond's sax wind around each other with beautiful result. Mayall wrote every song on the disk so the band is perfectly suited for the material. The original albums ends with the energetic workout of Room To Move, which may be Mayall's most recognizable song.

 A new expanded version of the original album includes three more tracks from the same night. This is an album you need to have on your playlist. It is available on iTunes and from Amazon.

1 comment:

  1. You had a nice experience.When beginning guitar lessons, as well as getting a teacher it is a great help to grab one of the online guitar courses.