John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 volume two (review)

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – Live in 1967 Volume two (Forty Below) review

Staggering performances highlight the genius of Peter Green

In 2015, Forty Below Records issued the first-ever live recordings of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers featuring guitarist Peter Green recorded back in 1967 (we reviewed that disc here).  They’ve followed that up with a second volume, which once again proves that Green needs to be in any discussion of the most gifted guitarists of all-time.  Oh, and he’s backed by bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, just months before the trio formed the original Fleetwood Mac.
As in Volume One, the sound quality here is certainly not stellar;  the performances were recorded on a single microphone reel to reel machine placed in the crowd.  Yet, the music is no less effective – giving us a glimpse into what an incredible force the Bluesbreakers were at their peak.

The disc’s opening track, “Tears in My Eyes,” a Mayall original, is worth the price of the disc alone.  Green’s spine-chilling solo goes on for 3 1/2 minutes, yet it never drags.  Instead, it builds in intensity as the guitarist seems to pull the notes directly from his soul.  As he ends, the crowd roars in approval.  Other standouts include B.B. King’s “Sweet Little Angel,” and the Green-penned instrumental “Greeny,”  which points to the direction he would take while forming Fleetwood Mac (hear him do some impressive note-bending near the end of the tune).

There are a couple of songs that are repeated on this second volume, but the performances are varied enough to justify their inclusion.  Especially good is “So Many Roads” – Green’s guitar tone and phrasing are absolutely jaw-dropping.  And, the solo here lasts 4 1/2 minutes!  A couple of tracks, like “Bye Bye Bird,”  turn the spotlight on Mayall’s fine harmonica playing, but the real draw is the brilliance of Peter Green.

Both volumes of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers Live in 1967 are essential listening for any guitarist wanting to study British blues.  The casual fan should start with studio albums like A Hard Road before proceeding here.  —Tony Peters