Graham Reid | | 1 min read
John Mayall (whose Blues From Laurel Canyon in '68 appears as an Essential Elsewhere, see tag) was undeniably the man who founded the British blues boom in the early 60s and on his albums at the time he covered classic and often little known blues material.
His bands during those years included Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce (who went on to form Cream, among other things); Mick Taylor (later Brian Jones' replacement in the Stones); Peter Green John McVie and Mick Fleetwood (the first Fleetwood Mac); and many more important figures.
Later Mayall also introduced another exceptional guitarist, Coco Montoya, who had learned from Albert Collins and played with Mayall for a decade until the mid 90s.
By the mid 80s however when Montoya joined Mayall, the word "legend" had been attached to Mayall's name -- but fewer and fewer people were listening. To even loyal 60s fans he seemed a quaint figure much respected but seldom investigated.
He did some fine albums with Montoya -- but in truth Mayall's vocals were never a major attraction even in those classic 60s albums. So you come to him with that in mind.
This live session recorded for the Austin City Limits television series comes from the Montoya period (recorded in September '93) and is at its best on material by Mayall's old favourites JB Lenoir, Jimmy Reed and Junior Wells and he plods on a couple of unworthy self-penned lyrics -- but of course the attraction is in the band, Montoya peeling off solos with needlepoint precision, guest guitarist David Grissom on the seven-minute encore Mail Order Mystics (where Mayall sounds like a yappy Neil Young), and Mayall's jazzy and soul-funk keyboards or wheezing harmonica.
He also goes back to his tribute to Bob Hite of Canned Heat for a rollicking version of The Bear, which originally apppeared on his Blues From Laurel Canyon of '68.
If Mayall, who is now 74, has gone past you in say the last decade or three you could do worse than check this out. If the name means little to you, go to the Essential Elsewhere to get the big picture.
There is a DVD of this concert available, part of the excellent Live From Austintx series which also includes live performances by Richard Thompson, Son Volt, Lucinda Williams, Guided by Voices, Dave Alvin, Guy Clark and others.
Excellent series, check it out under the labels link (go to New West) at www.elite.net.nz