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U.S.A. Union

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Album Review

John Mayall's "Turning Point" band — Jon Mark, Johnny Almond, and Steve Thompson — broke up in June 1970 after a European tour, with Mark and Almond forming their own band, appropriately named Mark-Almond. Mayall then assembled his first all-American band, consisting of violinist Don "Sugarcane" Harris, guitarist Harvey Mandel, and bassist Larry Taylor, and recorded this album in July. It had more drive than the previous outfit, and Mayall turned to environmentalism on the lead-off track, "Nature's Disappearing." (The original album jacket contained recycling information, too.) But much of his low-volume, reflective approach remained on an album that was still more of a jazz-pop outing than the blues sessions of his early career. Although The Turning Point is Mayall's biggest U.S. seller, USA Union had the highest chart peak of his career, hitting #22. But in the U.K., where its title confirmed Mayall's U.S. leanings (he had been living in California for two years), the album showed a big drop-off in his usual sales, spending only one week in the charts at #50.

Biography

Born: 29 November 1933 in Macclesfield, Cheshire, England

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

As the elder statesman of British blues, it is John Mayall's lot to be more renowned as a bandleader and mentor than as a performer in his own right. Throughout the '60s, his band, the Bluesbreakers, acted as a finishing school for the leading British blues-rock musicians of the era. Guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green, and Mick Taylor joined his band in a remarkable succession in the mid-'60s, honing their chops with Mayall before going on to join Cream, Fleetwood Mac, and the Rolling Stones, respectively....
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