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John Mayall's Bluesbreakers- Arlen Roth, Mike Henderson Band- Slam Allen

John Mayall's Bluesbreakers
Live in 1967

Forty Below

With the classic Bluesbreakers line-up of John Mayall, John McVie, Peter Green and Mick Fleetwood intact here, this set of never-heard-until-now live performances will be like catnip to fans of the Bluesbreakers and early Fleetwood Mac. There is a caveat though; although sanctioned and restored by Mayall, the recording is made from bootleg tapes, resulting in a lo-fi finished product that sounds kind of like you're standing in the parking lot outside the blues club listening to the music as it floats out an open door. Still the effort is worth a listen, especially to hear Green's guitar work. Set list includes Mayall originals "Streamline" and "Brand New Start" along with covers of familiar tunes like Otis Rush's "All Your Love" and several interpretations of Freddy King songs.

Arlen Roth
Slide Guitar Summit


Roth deals out sweet slide guitar licks on most of the tunes here, including on the Robert Johnson chestnut "Dust My Broom," on "Rocket 88" where he duels with the late Johnny Winter and on a funky take on Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken" where Lee Roy Parnell sings lead vocals and plays additional slide. And while slide guitar takes the spotlight on most of the songs there's also plenty of hot lap steel on tap as Cindy Cashdollar's playing adds an appropriate weepiness to Acker Bilk's "Stranger on the Shore" and David Lindley and Roth romp through "Her Mind is Gone." Rick Vito, Greg Martin, Jack Pearson, Sonny Landreth and Jimmy Vivino are among the other guitar hotshots guesting.

The Mike Henderson Band
If You Think It's Hot Here…


Henderson opens the album with one of several self-penned songs included here; a cut called "I Wanta Know Why," a blues rocker that is of the sort that informed many a Southern rock song back in the day. Henderson's slightly gravelly voice is not unlike that of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan and he sounds great boogie-ing through Hound Dog Taylor's "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia" and on Muddy Waters' "Mean Red Spider" and the Sonny Boy Williamson smoker "Unseen Eye." Henderson is a consummate player who has recorded with everyone from Mark Knopfler to Waylon Jennings, Sting to Bo Diddley, and it shows on every lick here. Fans new to the Henderson camp will not be disappointed with this effort.

Slam Allen
Feel These Blues

American Showplace

Allen may not be a household name to casual blues fans but the singer/guitarist is actually a big deal; Slam was the guitarist and lead singer for James Cotton for nearly a decade, and you don't hold down a gig like that without having the chops. Most of the album, self-penned except for a cover of Prince's "Purple Rain," is flavored with Hammond B3 organ playing from John Ginty but it is Allen's guitar work that steals the show on tunes like "Feel These Blues," the swaggering "The Blues is Back" and the slow and saucy "World Don't Stop Turning." Allen's voice is also immediately friendly; you can tell he's having fun and the listener will too.

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