49 JOHN MAYALL — Back To The Roots
Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor, Keef Hartley, Don ‘Sugarcane’ Harris, Harvey Mandel, Johnny Almond… a selection of the musicians John Mayall called when he decided to make an album celebrating past alumni of his bands. The name and roster tells you all you need to know, really. Eighteen tracks of (mostly electric) blues, some numbers rough and ready, all played with fire and enthusiasm. Fans of Mayall’s transatlantic blues would love this one, both for the playing and for the fresh examples of Mayall’s perennial concerns: relationships, the peripatetic life of yer gigging musician, social change, oppression by ‘The Man’.
The 24 page booklet is brilliant, too.
Just recently John announced he was retiring from touring, though he will play some local gigs. He’s about to turn 81, bless ‘im. Highlights: “My Children” (Almond, Mandel), “Mr Censor Man” (Taylor, Hartley). [Released early 1971]
48 DEUTER — D
German born Georg Deuter is well known in New Age circles for his gentle, melodic instrumental music, the kind of thing that might accompany a therapeutic massage or a morning reverie featuring wholemeal cookies and camomile tea. Yet Deuter’s first couple of albums—and this debut, in particular—are experimental and exploratory electronic works that also include taped sounds and acoustic instruments. D is a very interesting record, though it won’t be everyone’s cup of chai. Highlight: The four-movement “Babylon” suite. [July (possibly) 1971]
47 DEEP PURPLE — Fireball
Fireball was Deep Purple’s first #1 album (UK) and built on the success of In Rock, the first record with the famed Mark II lineup. The US version added “Strange Kind of Woman”, subbing out “Demon’s Eye”. Crazy move. Most people would have dropped “Anyone’s Daughter” in a second; it’s ghastly. Meanwhile, the rest of the album strongly defines the now settled style. Highlights: “Demon’s Eye”, “Fireball”, “The Mule”. [Released July (US) and September (UK) 1971]
46 CARAVAN — In The Land Of The Grey And Pink
Caravan’s third album is very much a progressive banquet, but with a nod to 1960s English whimsy in the form of “Golf Girl”. This was a single, and decidedly twee (rhyming with ‘tea’, don’t you know) but most of the rest of the LP has a lyrical and melodic lightness characterising the best of Caravan’s work. It’s almost a kind of pastoral prog, one might say; devoid of bombast but rich with great playing. Highlights: “Winter Wine”; “Nine Feet Underground”. [Released March 1971]
45 NICK DRAKE — Bryter Layter
Full of rich melodies, sensitive arrangements and great guitar playing, Nick Drake’s second album is—musically speaking—his strongest. Supported by Fairport alumni Dave Pegg (bass) and Dave Mattacks (drums), this is more sophisticated than standard 1971 singer-songwriter fare, including folk and jazz elements as well as rock touches (Richard Thompson guests). The whole LP exudes a desperate loveliness, like autumn leaves that have begun to crack at the edges yet still retain deep, sombre colours. (The re-issue pictured has admirable attention to detail, including the textured cover and a facsimile ‘worn’ inner sleeve.) Highlights: “Hazey Jane II”, “Northern Skyline”. [Recorded in 1970, released March 1971]