John Mayll's Bluesbreakers
Live in 1967
I don't have a vote, but if I did, I would make it a personal mission to see that Tom Huissen is inducted into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame.
Who is Tom Huissen, you ask? A semi-obscure guitarist or maybe a pioneering drummer?
Huissen was a big-time blues fan from Holland who had a tape recorder in the right place at the right time way back in 1967.
A devout fan of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Huissen craftily snuck a one channel reel-to-reel tape recorder into a handful of the group's concert appearances around London. After five decades of laying idle and unused, Mayall recently acquired those hallowed tapes and with the help of Forty Below Records' Eric Corne, has spruced them up and unleashed them as a truly special document of a truly special time for a truly special band.
The thing about Live in 1967 that is so remarkable is not its sound quality; it does sound at times like it was recorded on a one channel tape recorder stowed away inside a suit jacket back in the late '60s. The sound is boomy and bouncy and echoey, especially compared with modern-day recording technology. In other words, it sounds like a bootleg. I don't say that meaning to scare folks off; because considering the source and the age of the tapes, the sound is remarkably quite good. It just doesn't sound like it was recorded in 2015, because it wasn't.
What makes this such a treasured album is the lineup of the Bluesbreakers that it captures. You've got Mayall on vocals, keyboards and harp; Peter Green on guitar; John McVie on bass and Mick Fleetwood on drums. This configuration of the band would last just a touch over three months, which means any documentation of it on the bandstand is 'Holy Grail'-like. Green (an underrated guitarist if there ever was) stepped into the role of lead guitarist for Mayall after Eric Clapton had bolted following the iconic John Mayall's Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton album in 1966.
Green played on '67's A Hard Road and toured briefly with Mayall before he -- along with McVie and Fleetwood -- left to form Fleetwood Mac (get it?) and strike out on their own pioneering blues-rock highway.
There's a reason that Peter Green has long held a spot as the guitar player's guitar player (Carlos Santana dubbed Green's sound 'supernatural' and even named a Grammy-winning album after it and Gary Moore fell into possession of Green's 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard at one time and issued a tribute album to the icon). Green's touch, tone and feel is present in all its Technicolor glory in Live in 1967. This is why Santana, Moore and a host of other legendary six-string slingers were pulled into the orbit of the amazing Green.
Does Mayall know how to pick guitar players, or what? Considering the fact that Clapton, Green, Mick Taylor, Harvey Mandell, Coco Montoya and Walter Trout have all called the Bluesbreakers home over the years, I'd say the answer is an emphatic yes.
Even though Mayall's bandmates were obviously some of the best players on the scene, he was not content to just lay back and let them totally run the show. The slow-burn of the near nine-minute version of "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" features Mayall's rich and atmospheric organ work and is a highlight of the album.
All-in-all, this is a superb document of one of the most important blues-rock combos of all time. Luckily, young Tom Huissen decided to buck 'the man' and traipse around London with a tape recorder back in 1967.
Factoring in that the establishment in the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame has yet to do the right thing and enshrine Mayall, I'm really not holding out much hope that Huissen gets the nod, either.
But one can only hope on both counts.