on 11 November 2009
welcome back old friend. Hadn't heard this classic for years, then one morning found myself singing "I've been living with the Bear, in a big house full of blues" Purchased the cd, [thanx Amazon] hardly been out of the player since. A very personal album, superb concept album, [music/life trip London-Los Angeles-London], as always the finest musicians brought to their peak by John's guidance. The tracks melting into one another [1-7 & 8-12] plus two bonus tracks, one studio, one live from that era, complete the package. Hard to believe this was recorded in 1968!!! I'm sure that Mick Taylor's performance on guitar helped his move to a small 4-piece combo called the Rolling Stones the following year. So, to sum up, if you've never bought a John Mayall album before, in my opinion this shows his versatility more so than earlier/later albums which were either straight blues or jazz. Do yerself a favour and BUY!!!
on 29 October 2007
Another brilliant re-release from John Mayall, with some extra tracks, which have been available before. This was the last electric guitar based album he made, before moving to an acoustic format. Once again, superb musicianship and good songs produced an album which must be in the collection of all British blues fans. Guitarist Mick Taylor was given plenty of room to stretch out on this one, and he proved his huge talent, which unfortunately was rather wasted when he subsequently joined the Rolling Stones!
on 3 August 2009
John Mayall is of course the Godfather Of British Blues, first recording in 1965 and still touring and recording prolifically today, well into his seventies. My favourite of his many albums is this outstanding offering from 1968, which is both a collection of original blues-based songs with contemporary psych overtones and also a diary in music of his three-week vacation in Los Angeles that summer: either a song cycle or a concept album, according to your own definitions, but certainly unique among the slew of straightforward blues albums being produced by white performers on both sides of the Atlantic at the time.
Starting with the roar of a jet swinging across the stereo plane - a device cheekily lifted from the Beatles' White Album - the record chronicles Mayall's discovery of the heady delights of late sixties LA, his first sojourn in Laurel Canyon where he would later make his permanent home, his stay as a guest of Canned Heat with whom Mayall struck up a strong and lasting rapport - later, both Harvey Mandel and Larry Taylor would leave Heat to join Mayall's band - and, in considerable detail, his mission to get laid. It ends with a rueful recollection of the brief love affair and a moody anticipation of returning home to the UK.
In fact this is a collection of many moods, from joyous exploration of glamourous new surroundings, to irritable self-examination following a bust-up with an unidentified companion, to deep and intimate relations in the bedroom. The changes of mood are emphasised by Mayall's constant switches of instrumentation - he was already virtuosic on piano, Hammond and mouth-harp and capable on guitar - and by the careful segue of each track into the next, plus the pitching of each song in a different key. Every one of the twelve keys of the chromatic scale, except F#, is used (try playing blues in Db or Ab, if you will).
Backup is provided by the rock-solid rhythm section of drummer Colin Allen and 18-year-old bassist Stephen Thompson, while guitarist Mick Taylor, on his final studio outing with Mayall prior to joining the Stones, wields his Les Paul always tastefully and often excitingly throughout. Production by Decca's veteran producer Mike Vernon is commendable for those eight-track days.
My standout tracks are Ready To Ride, on which Mayall's overactive hormones fuel some explosive harp work; The Bear, whose intro pays tribute to a well-known Heat riff before segueing into a delightful piano-led country blues dedicated to Bob Hite; and Miss James, in which the Hammond reels through the jazzy changes in best Jimmy Smith style. But individual tracks cannot do justice to this album; for best effect it demands to be heard in sequence at a single sitting. Highly recommended.
Arriving in California in late July 1968 for a 3-week vacation, Mayall met other like-minded people and it prompted a splurge of songs from him that musically documented his feelings of elation and finally belonging. When he got back to Britain, he took his new stripped-down 4-piece band into Decca's Studios in West Hampstead for a 3-day session - 26 to 28 August 1968 - and out popped what many feel is his best album - "Blues From Laurel Canyon" - the entire record infused with reinvigoration and purpose.
The band for the session was:
JOHN MAYALL - Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards & Vocals
MICK TAYLOR - Guitars
STEPHEN THOMPSON - Bass
COLIN ALLEN - Drums & Tablas
UK released September 2007 – “Blues From Laurel Canyon” by JOHN MAYALL on Decca 984 083-9 (Barcode 0602498408391) is an Expanded CD and plays out as follows (61:11 minutes).
2. Walking On Sunset
3. Laurel Canyon Home
5. Ready To Ride
6. Medicine Man
7. Somebody’s Acting Like A Child [Side 2]
8. The Bear
9. Miss James
10. First Time Alone
11. Long Gone Midnight
12. Fly Tomorrow
Tracks 1 to 12 are the album “Blues From Laurel Canyon” – released November 1968 in the UK on Decca LK 4972 (Mono) and LKS 4972 (Stereo). It was issued only in Stereo in the USA on London PS 545 (the Stereo mix is used for the CD).
13. 2401 (Single Version) – Non-Album Version – B-side to “The Bear” which was released as a UK 7” single in November 1968 on Decca F 12846
14. Wish You Were Here (Live) – Recorded in Sweden, December 1968. First issued April 1983 on the “Primal Solos” LP in the UK on Decca TAB 66.
The Stereo version has been used for this remaster with two bonus tracks thrown in. First up is a "single version" of "2401", the B-side of the "The Bear" which issued on 45 on Decca F 12846 in November 1968 in the UK; second is a rare eight and half minute live version of "Wish You Were Here" recorded in Sweden in December 1968 with the same band as the album line-up (it was first released on the "Primal Solos" LP in 1977 on London LC 50003 in the USA and then in 1983 in the UK on Decca TAB 66). A real let down however is that the MONO mix didn't make the CD - but in fairness to the compilers - even if you drop the twelve and half minutes of the two bonus tracks - it would have been a push to get both versions on here intact - and the live track is a great addition - especially for fans of this wonderful band line-up.
Co-produced by MIKE VERNON (of Blue Horizon fame), the sound quality achieved on the original vinyl albums was famously superb and PASCHAL BYRNE of Audio Archiving has only amplified that in this truly fantastic remaster - ballsy, clean and beautifully clear. The 16-page booklet features the original Mayall liner notes, the lyrics and a detailed and affectionate appraisal of the album by noted writer and project co-ordinator MARK POWELL. There are even outtake photos from the album cover shoot.
The LP itself played like his emotions - tracks segue into each other, which either lifts the mood up or down depending on the tempo of the song - a clever representation of what he was feeling - jumping one moment, mellow the next. Highlights include the blisteringly good "Walking On Sunset" (lyrics above) which itself segues into the slinky and fabulous piano blues of "Laurel Canyon Home" which name-checks Zappa's girl-group signing "The GTO's" - while genuinely lamenting his departure from that Californian suburb in the lyrics "...here's a way of living that I will sorely miss..."
"The Bear" was a tribute to Canned Heat's lead singer BOB HITE while the quietly plaintive "First Time Alone" features the echoed licks of PETER GREEN as a guest guitarist. It's followed by superb keyboard work from Mayall on "Long Gone Midnight" which then gives way to the album's big finisher - and what an Outro it is - the stunning nine minutes of "Fly Tomorrow". After Chris Allen's Tabla intro, Mick Taylor finally gets room to stretch and show how he can play guitar. It's magnificent - and when I feature it on a shop play list, it brings customers to the counter asking - "who's this?"
So there you have it - John Mayall's "Blues From Laurel Canyon" is like Blodwyn Pig's "Ahead Ring Out" (1969) (see review), Fleetwood Mac's "Then Play On" (1969) and Taste's "On The Boards" (1970) - a properly great rock album from that extraordinary period of time - and it still stands up some forty-five years after the event. Mick Taylor went on of course to join the Stones and the wow of "Beggars Banquet", "Let It Bleed". "Sticky Fingers" and "Exile On Main Street" - and in November 2015 - Mayall will be 82 and is still playing the music he loves - the Bues - with a little bit of boogie and rock thrown in.
The album that preceded November's "Blues From Laurel Canyon" in June of 1968 was "Bare Wires" - another winner cut from pretty much the same cloth. And I’ll wear those duds any day of the week...
on 17 January 2008
I bought this on vinyl (twice! I wore one out) and on CD (albeit in original format without the 2 extra tracks). This album ranks with the Beano one as a 60s classic: Mick Taylor is brilliant (and still only 20 years old - downhill from now on....) and the whole thing is a masterpiece of ensemble playing. I find myself coming back to it regularly, nearly 40 years on.
One friend described it as a perfect record for making love - rumbustious start, mood switches through the middle, and a drawn-out langourous ending. Never tried it, but I can see where he was coming from.
on 18 March 2014
Another marvellous masterpiece from the master of blues, have this on vinyl, but it's been absolutely played to death on the turntable.
so got this replacement from amazon.
Right from the jetliner roar on the first track, it literally takes off, oh such good stuff. My wife has always been a John Mayall fan, she had this album on black plastic, decades ago, and guess what, it still sounds right, and relevant today.
If you've been wary of the blues, or god forbid John Mayall, this is a safe way in, give it a try- I think you'll enjoy it, it's that good.
John Mayall's voice just sends shivers down my spine when i hear him singing his non-country blues. He had a real knack for putting together really great bands, and this line up is no exception. The songs, arrangements, playing are just superb. This is one of my favourite albums of all time.It is rocky, bluesy and laid back all at the same time.
I have owned this album since the early 80`s, and it still pleases me when I listen to it. In my humble opinion, this is John`s finest work, I know how important the earlier album`s are, ' A HARD ROAD ' and ' THE BEANO ', but, at the time he made this, career wise, he had "made it" in the music industry, and was living in LAUREL CANYON , with neighbours like ' FRANK ZAPPA ' and ' DAVID CROSBY ', and, you can hear in the music, a modest contentment, from a very modest man. Not long after making this record, his house burnt to the ground , and he lost an enormous body of work, which , for me, makes this album even more poignant.If you enjoy good music, played well, and music that has depth and soul then buy this album, it will reward you forever.
on 8 September 2014
One of my favorite Mayall albums.Up the with the Turning Point and Bare Wires.Mick Taylor's playing is superb-economic but never spare.Les Paul my preferred sound to the Fender as a lead.
Mayall's songs are excellent throughout as is Mike Vernon's production
I think if you have this together with Bare Wires and Turning Point you have three aspects of Mayall that really show his versatility
on 16 December 2014
An excellent album, great tracks, it brought back memories of that period of my life.