John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers

The Power of the Blues

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British blues boomer John Mayall has always been somewhat of an ersatz figure because of his proclivity to stretch into more jazz or folky territory. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but he's never been all that authentic or convincing. This in-concert double-CD set from 1987 does focus on an attempt to contemporize the electric Chicago blues style, and on the whole succeeds. Mayall and his band, with the leader singing and playing amplified guitar, cover tunes by Sonny Boy Williamson, Otis Rush, Little Walter, and Jimmy Rogers, while nine others are penned by the leader. His nearly 11-minute "Room to Move," with Mayall on harmonica, is always a showstopper. Over the decades Mayall has gone back and forth from electric to acoustic, and though his less bluesy material has always been more popular, it's good to hear him strap on the axe and get down on occasion.

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