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Live At the BBC

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Album Review

On its own terms, most of this 14-track compilation of 1965-1967 recordings for BBC sessions (all but one of them dating from 1965-1967) is a worthwhile collection of supplementary work by John Mayall's best Bluesbreakers lineups. If you're a serious Mayall fan, however, be aware that you might have already bought this material in some form or another in the year or so previous to the release of this CD in early 2007. For the dozen 1965-1967 cuts all appear as bonus material on the 2006 U.K. expanded CD editions of the John Mayall Plays John Mayall, Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton, and A Hard Road albums, all of which also include bonus tracks from non-LP singles, studio outtakes, and the like. If for some reason you do want to zero in on the BBC material exclusively, this has some decent live performances with both the Eric Clapton and Peter Green lineups of the Bluesbreakers. (The liner notes also admit it's likely that the three tracks from October 25, 1965 feature not only Jack Bruce on bass during his brief Bluesbreakers stint, but also guitarist Jeff Kribit (sometimes spelled Geoff Krivit in other sources), who was in the group during a brief spell when Clapton left the band to go to Greece.) The BBC takes here of songs that also appear on Mayall's official '60s releases aren't as good as the studio versions (and are sometimes very similar), but are still well done, though on the five tracks on which Clapton appears, he doesn't seem to be playing with as much fire as he was capable of mustering. Of special interest are a few songs that Mayall didn't put on his official '60s recordings in any form, including a cover of Willie Dixon and Sonny Boy Williamson's "Bye Bye Bird" and (from the October 1965 session) two decent original Mayall compositions, "Cheating Woman" and "Nowhere to Turn." Also note that while Mayall was leading the Peter Green version of the Bluesbreakers on the four songs from a January 23, 1967 session, it's Mayall playing alone on one of these tracks, "No More Tears," which would appear on his The Blues Alone LP. The two songs that end the CD are from an October 21, 1975 session, and are of far less interest than the other material, dating from a time where Mayall was a few years past his creative peak and leading a much less interesting band.

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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