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on 24 December 2013
In his early years with the Bluesbreakers blues veteran John Mayall would present a new guitarist for each new studio album. "Crusade" from 1968 was the third album from John Mayalls Bluesbreakers, and the new young guitar player who had to lift the legacy of Eric Clapton and Peter Green was the later Rolling Stones member Mick Taylor.

"Crusade" is a natural extension of the previous two great blues-rock albums, and apart from the different sound of the three guitarist, the three albums have much in common. Much of the credit for this obviously goes to producer Mike Vernon who produced all Mayall's early albums. Where "Crusade" may lag slightly behind the two previous albums might be on the songwriting and perhaps also on the vocals. I believe few would claim that Mayall is a great singer, and it was therefore to be welcomed that both Clapton and Green were given some vokal parts. Moreover, Green's contribution to the songwriting in his time not unimportant .

The title "Crusade", refers, according to Mayall, to his wish of raising awareness of the musical genre for which he burned so strongly. For "Crusade" the band has been expanded to include two saxophone players, which of course help to shape a bigger sound. The use of horns, though, was not new for Mayall who had previously with succes worked with this group of instruments .

Without being quite as profiled as his predecessors Taylor comes out solid with his tight guitar sound, not least on the instrumental "Snowy Wood" and Mayall 's fine original "Tears in My Eyes". Among the other highlights of the album are the opening track "Oh , Pretty Woman" and the delicate version of Willie Dixon's "I Can't Quit You Babe" .

Some of the other songs are a bit ordinary and some suffers somewhat from flimsy and sometimes strained vocals by Mayall.

Therefore it is a welcome addition to the album that it has been expanded with ten bonus tracks , mostly from the period of Peter Green . "Greeny" and "Missing You", both written by Green, are scoops; "Missing You" is sung by Green and the song sounds a lot like early Fleetwood Mac. Also "Curly" was written by Green, and it is an example of Green 's musical vision which went beyond just the traditional blues. The single "Double Trouble" b.w. "It Hurts Me Too" also is a very nice addition to the at album.
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on 31 January 2009
Third of the unintentional sixties Bluesbreakers trilogy comprising: "The Beano" (Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton) and "A Hard Road" (with Peter Green), "Crusade" continues with the same formula of covers of blues standards from the likes of Freddy King, Willie Dixon, Otis Rush, Sonny Boy Williamson combined with Mayall (and Mick Taylor) originals.
"Crusade" was part of Mayall's campaign to bring the blues to a wider audience back in 1967, coupled with the release of various singles in that year (featuring various line ups from this and the previous album) all to no avail although "Suspicions" did enter the top 40. Alas with the likes of Cream's classic psychedelic blues rock album "Disraeli Gears" and the Jimi Hendrix Experience's debut "Are You Experienced", Crusade's tired formula was over shadowed and did n't make me part with my money back then, as much as I tried to like it. Nevertheless "Crusade" reached a respectable number 8 in the UK album charts.
Yes I realise as a callow youth myself I was expecting too much from the 18 year old Mick Taylor, but as much as his technical ability and musical maturity belied his tender years, for me there was no comparison to Eric Clapton at age 21 and his blistering savage guitar work on the "Beano" or equally the beautiful melodic economy of the 23 year old Peter Green's playing on "A Hard Road" - what a difference a few years make! Mayall moved on from this formula with his next album - the jazz/blues fusion tinged "Bare Wires" - where Mick was able to stretch and grow (such as on the bonus track "Knockers Step Forward" instrumental).
But good music is not all about guitarists or individual band member contributions is it? The Bluesbreakers line up on "Crusade" was expanded with the addition of a horn section comprising Chris Mercer and Rip Kant, who added more colour and depth to the arrangements as well nice interplay with Mick's guitar work. All in all good songs, good ensemble playing and vocals but no magic or fire.
God knows what the "Hard Road" line up singles and rarities, featuring Peter Green, are doing here (probably would have been more suitable on the expanded version of "Hard Road" or a "Decca London Years" compilation), maybe it's because the more relevant singles and bonus tracks featuring Mick Taylor are now on "Bare Wires".
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If you like the Beano Album and Hard Road album you will like this one too. First Mayall LP with Mick Taylor, more concise than the next 2 Taylor was on. Taylor isn't as firey as clapton is on the Beano, but he is nevertheless superb. I love this album, I wish I had bought it 20 years ago when I bought the Beano and Hard Road. Don't make the same mistake buy this album today.
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on 29 December 2007
I bought this on vinyl all those years ago, played it to death for months and promptly forgot about it! I remember thinking it was ever so slightly disappointing after the overwhelming brilliance of the Clapton and Green albums. Mick Taylor's playing was great but seemed slightly stilted compared to his illustrious predecessors. How wrong can you be! "Oh Pretty Woman" is the definitive version in my book, "Snowy Wood" is a guitar instrumental par excellence and Taylor's contribution is outstanding throughout. That's not to mention the tight brass section and Mayall's astonishing harmonica solo on "Checkin' Up on my Baby". Even Mayall's usually reedy voice achieves real passion on Buddy Guy's "My Time After Awhile" and shows remarkable sensitivity with his tribute "Death of JB Lenoir".
That's the original tracks 1-12. I'd really like to know who was responsible for what's been added here. If you expect a few outtakes or alternate versions you're likely to be disappointed. Most of the other tracks feature Peter Green and consist in the main of disposable instrumental workouts and an Aynsley Dunbar drum solo on "Rubber Duck". Not awful if you like British blues but what on earth are these tracks doing here? I'm still giving the record five stars though, it's that good.
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on 29 October 2007
Re-release of Mayall's 1967 album, with lots of extra tracks, all of which have been available on cd before, apart from Rubber Duck (Aynsley Dunbar's drum solo, which was on the "b" side of the 45rpm single Curly). A terrific band at the top of their form, and a stunning debut from 18 year guitarist Mick Taylor, who had a fluency and sound belying his tender years. Tracks 13-20 are from the line-up with Peter Green, so not quite sure why they appear here, but who is complaining when the music is so good!

This is an essential album for any lover of British blues.
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on 27 December 2007
This is a good solid blues album, and any fan of British blues will be satisfied if they buy this. However the album does not compare to the classic 'beno' album, and ultimately was a slight let down. I expect magic from the Blues Breakers, and this album didn't quite provide.
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on 15 October 2015
Classic early Mayall. As the man himself said "Just Listen" You will not be disappointed
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on 22 March 2015
back to the days when the blues ruled and pop was irrelevant, and it still is!
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on 2 December 2015
Brilliant, can't really say any more about the Godfather of British blues!!
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on 25 July 2015
Interesting extra tracks, classic John Mayall
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