British blues legend John Mayall’s musical persona might be akin to jazz drummer/bandleader Art Blakey’s mentoring of those who possess raw talent and display the goods -- to make a difference! Either way, Mayall’s Bluesbreakers serve as a long-running institution. No need to rehash the fact that guitar hero Eric Clapton, vocalists Mick Jagger, Long John Baldry and other artistes rose through the ranks, spanning the early 60s and onward. With Mayall’s heartwarming falsetto voice and audience pleasing demeanor, this special edition 5-CD set provides an insightful snapshot into his immense recorded legacy.
The "Father of the British Blues" is captured in various settings, including his 70th birthday concert CD featuring Clapton, keyboardist Chris Barber and fabled British jazz trumpeter Henry Lowther. Mayall’s quasi-jazz/blues/waltz piece "California" serves as one of the many highlights here. As previously unissued, The Bluesbreakers "Exclusive Live Rarities" is a celebration that showcases pieces recorded live in 1966 with bassist John McVie (Fleetwood Mac) amid a 1986 blues blitz with electric guitarists Coco Montoya and Walter Trout.
Gravelly Hammond B-3 phrasings, foot-stomping shuffle vamps, torrid guitar solos, punchy horn arrangements and weeping slide guitar lines are executed with compassion and ominous intentions throughout this 5-disc set. Mayall’s blues vernacular also encompasses the jazz element in concert with ample doses of raucous boogie-blues motifs. He’s a convincing storyteller who appears to "live" the lyrical connotations. And he rarely, if ever, hires sub-standard musicians. A comprehensive booklet containing historical anecdotes and the appropriate album listings top off this wonderfully entertaining gala.