Album Reviews: Macrodosing John Mayall’s transitional years

John Mayall and his hat were just made to be buried, forgotten and then joyfully rediscovered in a vinyl collection. Bare Wires (1968) is a delightfully odd effort to get away from purist blues schemes, with its „suite“, jazz and psychedelia ingredients. 1970’s Empty Rooms is the first studio album after the move towards Mayall’s mix of blues and folk jazz – he doesn’t stretch musically in the studio setting, with less interesting results. The Looking Back compilation above is not the one from 1969, but a German Decca double-LP from 1974, a hodgepodge of his late 1960s material, but extremely worthwhile in the German vinyl era. Speaking of hodgepodges: So Many Roads (2010), a box set chronicling his first ten years up to 1974 is one of those weird affairs with excellent documenting material, straight and stubborn chronological sequencing (which I love), while begging the question whether there is a cosmic justification for this kind of product. The godfather of British blues, everyone!

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