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John Mayall

The Masters – Special Edition

Review by Gary Hill

This CD features music from the film Turning Point. It shows the old school John Mayall sound, which I’d probably best describe as “hippie blues.” The music here is solid, although some of the recordings seem a bit too low in terms of the recording level. The second CD features a lot of rough sketch type pieces and some interesting interviews – including one with Eric Clapton and another with original Fleetwood Mac members Peter Green and John McVie. I have a hunch you won’t find yourself listening to disc 2 very often, but it’s cool to have nonetheless.

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
Disc 1
Don't Waste My Time
They bring this in with a hippie sort of cheery sound. Harmonica joins in a bit and this moves on, feeling like traveling music. It has a definite folk feeling to it. The vocals bring the more pure blues and a sound rather like something you’d expect from Canned Heat. The chugging grind later, complete with harmonica solo, is a nice touch and turns more expansive as it carries on.
Sleeping By Her Side
A slow guitar based blues leads us out here. They turn it mellower as they work forward and it begins to take on an almost progressive rock texture in terms of the overlayers of sound. Still, once the vocals come in we’re in a down and dirty blues that’s got a definite back porch feeling to it. Flute swims around this pool of sound later and brings more of a progressive rock texture to this. I also hear bits that call to mind the bluesier side of early Hawkwind here and there.
Room To Move
Here we get a faster paced jam that’s quite a cool one. This is more like the first cut, but with more volume and intensity. There is a cool harmonica and percussion break on the song, too. This moves out into the kind of space music that really wouldn’t play well live in this day and age. This thing definitely drags on a bit too long. They bring it back quite nicely when they pull it back in for the faster segment to end it.
Saw Mill Gulch Road
With a slide guitar motif this is much more pure blues and it works better than the last number did. The extensive guitar soloing on this is quite tasty. It comes up rather tentatively but once it works out into the song proper this is a raw and gritty blues jam that’s amongst the best on the set.
Can't Sleep This Night
We get some cool saxophone on this blues track and this is another that times calls to mind early Hawkind for me a bit. There’s a cool call and response segment later between the guitar and the sax. They move it out towards space for a time here, but it’s a lot more substantial guitar based sound. They essentially fade it down (not the easiest thing to do live) to end it.
Thoughts About Roxanne
This slow down home blues grind has a definite jazz texture to quite a bit of it. We get a killer fast jam that’s pretty much all jazz and includes a smoking saxophone solo. The guitar leads us out in an old school rock and roll type of solo, too. “Thoughts About Roxanne” is another highlight of the set.
I’m Gonna Fight For You JB
A classic twelve bar blues, this is a raw and gritty one. The guitar soloing on this is extremely tasty. We also get a nice saxophone solo to end it.
I’m Gonna Fight For You JB
This is another version of the track we just heard, but the recording doesn’t seem to be as good. In some ways it doesn’t vary greatly. It just seems to have a bit less energy.
California
This understated blues jam is another that reminds me at times of Hawkwind. It’s also another that features some killer saxophone work. This becomes quite the jam before it closes out. At almost thirteen minutes in length this is extensive. It is another that drags a bit at times.

Disc 2
Parchman Farm
They bring the big guns out on this scorcher. This thing is a fiery jam that’s more in the modern electrified vein of the blues. Unfortunately this is a short one.
Interview With Chris Welch
Just what it says it is, this is a two plus minute interview.
Interview With Chris Welch / The Laws Must Change
Here Welch talks over the song. The music plays on after the interview, too. 

Don't Waste My Time
This is another version of this old school blues jam. It becomes quite a scorcher before it ends.
Greensleeves Blues / I'm Gonna Fight For You JB / Interview With Colin Allen
They come in with, as one might guess, a variant on “Greensleeves” and then shift out into other music and Colin Allen’s interview comes across as the group plays on.
Thoughts About Roxanne
This is sort of a rough draft jam session version of the tune from the first disc.

Bill Haley Lives!
As you might guess this is a scorching celebration of old school rock and roll. The saxophone really drives a bit piece of this. After a while they turn it out to a full on take on The Comets best known number. This is also sort of a loose jam.

Interview With Eric Clapton / Don't Pick A Flower
Once more we get an interview followed by a rough around the edges sketch of a song.
Interview With Chris Welch / The Story Of JB Lenoir
This is an extended interview segment. 
I'm Gonna Fight For You JB / Interview With Peter Green & John McVie
They lead off with the blues grind that was presented twice on disc one of the set. Then we get the interview with the two Fleetwood Mac founders.
 
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