John Mayall

Steppin' Out: An Introduction to John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

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This would have been a daunting task for anybody, but Decca did a decent job in assembling this one-disc (!) collection of John Mayall's material. For a label that did two double CDs on Mayall as part of its Chronicles series, squeezing Mayall's long career with them into 17 cuts is nigh-on impossible. Needless to say, there are essentials missing; that's a given in this format. That said, what is here is solidly representative of Mayall's wildly diverse and deeply authentic approach to the blues over the first six Bluesbreakers discs. If anything, this disc evidences beyond any reasonable doubt that it is Mayall and not Alexis Korner who best embodies the subgenre of British blues. Virtually every major cut Mayall recorded with the Bluesbreakers through Jazz Blues Fusion is here except one: "Hideaway" with the version of the band that included Eric Clapton. Why? "Parchman Farm" and "Key to Love" were chosen instead. Certainly the argument can be made for the former, but the latter? The reads of "I Can't Quit You Baby" and "Hit the Highway" with Peter Green are here, and so is "Laurel Canyon Home" with Mick Taylor, as is "Hartley Quits." Albums like Empty Rooms, Hard Road, Blues from Laurel Canyon, Crusade, Bluesbreakers, Looking Back, and Bare Wires are represented.

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