It was recorded in Liverpool on July 19 2003. The celebration was a little premature since Mayall was born on 29 November 1933.
While former Rolling Stones lead guitarist Taylor returned to play with the Bluesbreakers in the early 1980s, this was the first time for nearly forty years that Clapton and Mayall had appeared together on stage. Back in early 1966 they had recorded the classic studio album John Mayall & The Blues Breakers with Clapton reading the Beano comic on the cover.
This isn’t the over-the-top guitar album that you might have expected with younger versions of Clapton and Taylor. Both are aware that they are honouring the contribution that John Mayall has made to the British blues and are sharing the limelight with John Mayall rather than seizing it away.
The album therefore lies in the intersection of blues and blues rock.
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Songs On John Mayall 70th Birthday Concert
Grits Ain’t Groceries – 5:14
Jacksboro Highway – 5:30
Southside Story – 7:50
Kids Got The Blues – 3:55
Dirty Water – 8:08
Somebody’s Acting Like A Child – 8:00
Blues For The Lost Days – 12:26
Walking On Sunset – 6:34
Oh, Pretty Woman – 9:32
No Big Hurry – 6:31
Please Mr Lofton – 7:03
Hideaway – 4:50
All Your Love – 4:19
Have You Heard – 18:02
Hoochie Coochie Man – 6:26
I’m Tore Down – 5:55
It Ain’t Right – 6:18
California – 15:30
Talk To Your Daughter – 8:57
The set includes four songs from the Mayall / Clapton album – Hideaway, All Your Love, Have You Heard and It Ain’t Right. It also has a nice balance between Mayall penned songs and classic blues including Albert King, Freddie King, Otis Rush and Willie Dixon.
Mick Taylor appears to play lead guitar for four songs from Somebody’s Acting Like A Child and Clapton replaces him from No Big Hurry. Mick Taylor returns from California and they are all together for the encore.
Chris Farlow, recognised as bringing the first blues stars to the UK in the 1950s is recognised band plays trombone.
Also playing on the album are:
John Mayall – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Keyboards
Buddy Whittington – Guitar
Tom Canning – B3 Hammond Organ
Hank Van Sickle – Electric Bass
Joe Yuele – Drums
There is also a small horn section on some songs
Henry Lowther – Trumpet
Julian Arguelles – Baritone Saxophone
Dave Lewis – Tenor Saxophone
It’s Taylor and Clapton that lift the concert above a normal Bluesbreakers concert but they never dominate proceedings. I’ve read criticisms of both but this wasn’t the time for fiery guitar histrionics. The emphasis is on keeping their solos tasteful.
The overall performance is terrific where songs are given plenty of space to breathe through improvisations with a nice balance between the instrumentalists.
It’s hard to pick out highlights because there isn’t a song on here that falls below the level of good. I’ve always had a weakness for Have You Heard which becomes a much extended song at this concert.
What Other People Say
It’s highly recommended by AllMusic,.com with the reviewer giving it 4.5 stars and the user rating averaging the full 5 stars.
Over at Amazon…
Buying John Mayall 70th Birthday Concert
If you love the blues, then I believe that this is the fourth essential John Mayall album after Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, The Turning Point and Jazz Blues Fusion which show the diversity of the man. Others may argue that there are even more since this ignores Mick Taylor’s time in the studio together with albums from Peter Green, Harvey Mandel, Walter Trout and Coco Montoya.
These links will help you get to the albums quickly and easily but I recommend that you still search for the best deal.
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