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Non-Prog CD Reviews

John Mayall

Live at the Marquee 1969

Review by Gary Hill

John Mayall is certainly considered by many to be the catalyst and center of England’s blues movement. This live recording from 1969 shows that he was not limited to one musical style, though. Yes, there is a lot of blues present here, but this is also a very jazzy album. Add some space rock into the mix and you’ll get a pretty complete vision of what this performance was like. All the musicians here put in admirable showings and the sound quality is quite good for live recordings from that era.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2008  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Can't Sleep This Night
Some stage banter opens this and then a picked guitar comes up gradually. This evolves into a mellow blues jam that somehow reminds me a bit of early Hawkwind. As it moves into the middle portion of the song those Hawk elements aren’t really present. We get a cool harmonica solo on this one. Still further down the road they move it out towards a spacey sort of blues and then the comparisons to Dave Brock’s outfit seem appropriate again. Eventually they make it back out the song proper. The spacier sounds return for a short reprise to end it.
So Hard To Share
This comes in with a jazzier take on the blues space rock type sounds. That sort of motif holds it for quite a while, but then they intensify it up into a smoking jazz meets the blues instrumental jam.  We are treated to a killer extended sax solo on this one. This one again moves out to space rock territory later in its course. We get a touch of Cream thrown into the mix further along the road (think “Sunshine of Your Love” as it’s a direct musical quote).

Don't Waste My Time
For my money it would be really easy for someone to think that this blues number is being performed by Canned Heat here. Mind you, that’s not a bad thing. It’s just that I really think this sounds a lot like their style of the blues. The instrumental segment feels a lot more like traditional blues than the rest of the cut.
I'm Gonna Fight For You JB
The classic twelve bar progression that makes this up is cool. Again, you might think of Canned Heat when you hear this one. It’s more like a back porch kind of blues jam. We get more saxophone on this one.
The Laws Must Change
A slower blues, this is another that has a healthy dosage of jazz in its midst. It’s one of the meatier songs in terms of the mood. They take this out in a killer jam later that’s a bit spacey and calls to mind the bluesier era of Jethro Tull quite a bit. Of course, part of that comparison comes from the flute solo.
California (1)
More of the jazz meets space rock in a blues motif makes up this killer track. It’s another where saxophone plays prominently. They move this through a number of variations where different pieces of that equation jazz/space rock/blues equation take control. More flute brings back the Tull comparisons, particularly when the vocals seem to parallel the flute.
California (2)
We get another take on the last track here. This one is perhaps a bit higher in energy.

 
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