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on 22 April 2004
Mick Taylor's decision to quit the Bluesbreakers for the Rolling Stones in May 1969 consolidated John Mayall's reputation as a mentor for new talent, but left him without a band. His response was to recruit two experienced session musicians - Jon Mark and Johnny Almond - and to use them, and remaining bassist Steve Thompson, to push his music into new areas of jazz-blues fusion. Dispensing with a drummer, he immediately put this "revolutionary", and in the end short lived line-up on the road, recording "The Turning Point" at the Fillmore East only two months later.

Viewed initially as a gimmick, the lack of drums was in fact key to the clear, intimate sound Mayall was seeking. Structured to allow virtuoso playing, his highly atmospheric songs are driven along by the bass and acoustic guitars, with instrumental solos emerging from and gliding above their intricate backing rhythms. Mayall's vocals, guitar & harmonica underpin some excellent blues and R&B, while Almond's inspired sax & flute breaks lift several numbers into the realms of pure jazz. As the Melody Maker commented at the time, "the range of sounds and moods they obtain is staggering", but the group's most remarkable feature is their seemingly effortless interaction and the drifting, almost distant feel this stimulates.

The ecstatic response of the New York crowd mirrors my own reaction on seeing the band a few weeks earlier in the slightly less exalted surroundings of the Slough Adelphi. Standing in a circle, with simple lighting, low amplification, no drummer and one member (Mark) seated on a canteen chair they seemed small and insignificant. But when they played they just soared, taking the audience with them. To capture their unique style required a live recording and "The Turning Point" does just that: showcasing them in superb form as they create beautiful, enthusiastic, and often highly introspective music that stands out across time.

And, for those who've already discovered the delights of this quite superb album, this remastered version includes three additional tracks from that same magical night, two of which rank only marginally behind those that made the original cut and one - "Don't Waste My Time" - that's as good as anything else on it.
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on 10 November 2000
Mick Taylor's decision to quit the Bluesbreakers for the Rolling Stones in May 1969 consolidated John Mayall's reputation as a mentor for new talent, but left him without a band. His response was to recruit two experienced session musicians - Jon Mark and Johnny Almond - and to use them, and remaining bassist Steve Thompson, to push his music into new areas of jazz-blues fusion. Dispensing with a drummer, he immediately put this "revolutionary", and in the end short lived line-up on the road, recording "The Turning Point" at the Fillmore East only two months later.

Viewed initially as a gimmick, the lack of drums was in fact key to the clear, intimate sound Mayall was seeking. Structured to allow virtuoso playing, his highly atmospheric songs are driven along by the bass and acoustic guitars, with instrumental solos emerging from and gliding above their intricate backing rhythms. Mayall's vocals, guitar & harmonica underpin some excellent blues and R&B, while Almond's inspired sax & flute breaks lift several numbers into the realms of pure jazz. As the Melody Maker commented at the time, "the range of sounds and moods they obtain is staggering", but the group's most remarkable feature is their seemingly effortless interaction and the drifting, almost distant, feel this stimulates.

The ecstatic response of the New York crowd mirrors my own reaction on seeing the band a few weeks earlier in the slightly less exalted surroundings of the Slough Adelphi. Standing in a circle, with simple lighting, low amplification, no drummer and one member (Mark) seated on a canteen chair they seemed small and insignificant. But when they played, they just soared, taking the audience with them. To capture their unique style required a live recording and "The Turning Point" does just that: showcasing them in superb form as they create beautiful, enthusiastic, and often highly introspective music that stands out across time.
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on 23 August 2011
After previous albums of heavy electric blues and excursions into jazz rock territory, Big John staggered many a music writer by ditching the whole concept of guitar, bass and drums. After all, he had already done it with the best, and the concept had left him behind as former members pushed it to their own limits with their own combos. What was left for the guvnor other than to kick old hat into touch and come up with something like rhythmic country jazz with a blues groove feel (I know, but I can't put it any better). Acoustic guitars, sax and flute and electric bass transformed previously mournful wailing into soaring, dancing melodies, where the overall sound was genuinely more than the sum of the instruments, a feat only achieved by very few groups, in the process inventing the Unplugged concept coined by MTV some 20 years later.

My advice is to listen to this via headphones, that way you pick-up nuances that just seem to get drowned in the normal stereo environment. Jon Mark's finger-picking/strumming is just a joy to behold, and the usage of harmonics offers just a little edge where needed. The bass just thrums away keeping the beat magnificently, and the sax/flute of Johnny Almond shows what a talent has been lost; his real beauty being in the way he knew when not to play. And at the front, we have the bandleader himself displaying great virtuosity on guitar, harmonica and vocals, showing that he has always been more than the blues nursery assistant he is sometimes painted.

One gripe: I've never been quite sure why Room To Move has been such a favourite over the years. It's a competent kind of anthem crowd pleaser, but it lacks the unity and structure of the other songs, and I've never been completely sure that it should be credited entirely to JM. Anyone that's listened to early Paul Butterfield albums will know what I mean, and I don't think he was the first either. Nevertheless, that's just a personal view and it doesn't change the fact that this is one of those albums that you simply HAVE to hear before you die.
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on 23 December 2001
Ground breaking for an established blues artist at the time of the original release, the originality of the band's format and the sheer brilliance of the musicians still mark this album out as an essential for Mayall fans and lovers of the saxophone in particular, with So Hard to Share and California outstanding vehicles for Johnny Almond. Mayall brings out the best in those who play with him: which always is his forte.
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on 3 December 2009
I can only echo the other comments by reviewers. Even if you own the original album, this re-issue is well worth purchasing, for the wonderful extra tracks, and for the opportunity to hear this ground breaking album again.

The sound is so good that, particularly with headphones on, you feel as though you are part of the audience!

I remember when Mayall formed this incarnation of the Bluesbreakers. Like many other died-in-the-wool bluesers I thought it was going to be a real let-down after Messrs. Clapton, Green and Taylor. However, when I saw the band I was instantly converted, and the album still stands up just as strongly now.

Great playing from all concerned, with a special salute to the late Johnny Almond, who died very recently. His brilliant sax and flute playing will long live on!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 March 2011
Wow! For me, this is the consummate Mayall album. Although I have both 'Bluesbreakers' and 'Hard Road', for some reason this had escaped my attention: yet what a discovery. Mayall was influenced by Jimmy Giuffre's work in bands without a drummer, so this line-up does likewise, with Steve Thompson's bass and Jon Mark's 'acoustic finger-style guitar' providing much of the rhythmic engine, with Mayall's vocal, harp and guitar work, and Johnny Almond's rich and syrupy sax and flute work alternately soaring across the ensemble, or raspily driving down a rhythm. The acoustic approach really pays off, as the instruments have a sharpness and clarity which allows the listener to appreciate the subtleties of both solo and ensemble work. The sense of joy and freshness from the band is infectious, as it ought to be, as they'd only been playing this material for a few weeks before this live recording. Many of the tracks stretch out for longer than is usual with Mayall's albums, and this is all to the good, as there are many mouth-wateringly delicious numbers here. Indeed, for me, 'Room to Move', which has become a Mayall classic, is really outshone by many of the other tracks here: it really is that good. The three bonus tracks are likewise quality, rather than filler material. So if you want to investigate 'Mayall does Mellow Blues', with a gorgeously jazzy influence, don't hesitate: this one's bang on the money!
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on 4 January 2013
Having been a huge admirer of Mr Mayall since he burst on to the Blues scene in the sixties, I admit that this was one of
his albums that I had never actually heard!, I was intrigued about the fact that he had dispensed with the services of a
drummer,so I didn't know what to expect. This album is stupendous, one of the better live albums I've heard, all of the musicians
just seem to slot in, plus it doesn't sound dated whatsoever despite being recorded long ago. This album is a MUST
for anyone remotely interested in the British Blues Scene of years ago, I've heard it said over the years that John Mayall
never did have a great voice, maybe so, but to me he remains one of the true greats of the burgeoning British Blues Scene
as it was. HIGHLY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!! Don't delay Buy it today !!
I have been waiting for an Autobiography from him for years, what a great book that would be, from someone who has actually lived a blues life and has introduced to the world a veritable wealth of fabulous musicians throughout the ever changing line ups in his various bands!!!!!
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on 16 August 2012
This album is Mayall's best ever and is best listened to in a dark room with a good set of headphones and a nice bottle of red. I was 18 in 1973 when I first heard this album. I'd just bought my first stereo but had no real taste in music, just what was in the charts. I was searching through a record shop for something to buy to play on my new stereo. I was thumbing through all the albums A-Z; when I came across John Mayall - The Turning Point. I vaguely remembered a guy in school had raved about this album. I thought, what the hell, and bought it. Within 9 months I had every album Mayall had released up to that point and am still buying them now. Thank you Mark Jones of Barmouth, without your recommendation I would have probably missed out on my favourite artist of all time. I guess it was destiny.
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on 2 January 2016
I must have been seventeen years old when I saw this band at Manchester's Free Trade Hall: my first live gig and an absolutely electrifying experience.
Visually everything was low key. Four musicians on stage, the Orange PA, a young bass player holding the whole thing together with propulsive lines, an acoustic guitarist sitting down, Mr. Mayall, and the mesmerising sax and flute player. I can still see the reflections from his horn and hear the soaring phrasing. I just walked out of that hall knowing I had to play those instruments and I did, though not to Almond's standards. Still it's been a great journey for me into blues, jazz and lots of other music, and it started there.
The album catches perfectly the mood of the live performance I saw. It is by turns melodic, engaging, exciting, sensitive and makes astonishing use of dynamics. The sax and flute playing still inspires, but for me the best moment is on the 12 bar blues homage to JB Lenoir, when the bass joins the acoustic and electric guitars. Until then Mayall has been providing the pulse, playing one of Sonny Terry's harp lines on electric guitar. At first the bass is almost imperceptible, but as the volume subtly rises and drives the tempo Mayall takes a couple of choruses on electric guitar. He is not a brilliant player technically, but as so often in the blues that doesn't count. What counts is the feeling and the notes he doesn't play.
Mayall said in later years that he got the idea for his drummer less band from recordings by Jimmy Guiffre which by coincidence I was listening to earlier. But Guiffre's trio lacks emotion compared to these brilliant English players.
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on 15 November 2013
The first time I heard the track ' Room to Move ' was on some Polydor sampler album way back in the 1970's.I have always enjoyed and appreciated John Mayalls take on electric blues but this album together with his Blues/Jazz Fusion venture,have really opened my eyes to how extensive his reportoire really is.This album is quite superb and the minimalistic nature of it only enhances the quality of the blues compositions.Tremendous playing and absolutely wonderful and classy stuff.
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