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Looking Back - John Mayall

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Looking Back (1969) - John Mayall

    Featuring »

Jack Bruce (John Symon Asher), Eric (Patrick) Clapton, Roger Dean, Aynsley Dunbar, Mick Fleetwood, Hughie Flint, Peter Green, Martin Hart, Keef Hartley, Dick Heckstall-Smith, John Mayall, John McVie, Chris Mercer, Mick Taylor, Bernie Watson, Paul Williams

    Tracklisting »

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Mr. James
  Date Performance: 1964-04-20, Running Time: 2:49
  Comments: Recorded at Decca Studios, West Hampstead, London.
Blues City ShakedownInstrumental
  Date Performance: 1965-02-26, Running Time: 2:22
Stormy Monday
  Date Performance: 1966-03-17, Running Time: 4:23
  Comments: (Live) Billed as "They Call It Stormy Monday".
So Many RoadsLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1966-09-30, Running Time: 4:46
  Comments: Recorded at Decca's West Hampstead Studios.
Looking BackLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1966-09-30, Running Time: 2:34
  Comments: Recorded at Decca's West Hampstead Studios.
Sitting In The RainLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1966-10-11, Running Time: 2:56
  Comments: Recorded during the "A Hard Road" sessions.
It Hurts Me TooLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1967-04-19, Running Time: 2:55
  Comments: Recorded at Decca's West Hampstead Studios.
Double TroubleLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1967-04-19, Running Time: 3:19
  Comments: Recorded at Decca's West Hampstead Studios.
  Date Performance: 1967-09-00, Running Time: 5:16
  Comments: (Part 2)
JennyLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1967-12-04, Running Time: 4:36
  Comments: Recorded at Decca's West Hampstead Studios.
Picture On The WallLyrics available
  Date Performance: 1967-12-05, Running Time: 3:01
  Comments: Recorded at Decca's West Hampstead Studios.
    Guest Appearances »

John(ny) Almond, Peter Green, Henry Lowther, Nick Newel

    Released »


    Format »

Domestic Vinyl/CD Album

    Other Appearances »
John Mayall (Songwriter), John Mayall (Songwriter), Marshall Paul (Songwriter), Tampa Red (Hudson Whittaker) (Songwriter), Otis Rush (Songwriter), T-Bone (Aaron Thibeaux) Walker (Songwriter), Johnny (Guitar) Watson (Songwriter), John Tracy (Liner Notes), Mike Vernon (Liner Notes), Mike Vernon (Produced By)

    Record Label »

    Catalogue Number »

PS562 (London LP) SKL5010 (Decca LP) 8203312 (Deram CD)

    Running Time »


    Liner Notes »

For original issue:

The changing faces of the Bluesbreakers have always been a subject of interest - this list will help put the ~ 9 regular working bands into their historical order...

February 1963 to April 1964
Bernie Watson gtr
John McVie bs
Peter Ward dms

April 1964 to May 1965
Roger Dean gtr
John McVie bs
Hughie Flint dms

May 1965 to June 1966
Eric Clapton gtr
John McVie or Jack Bruce bs
Hughie Flint dms

June 1966 to May 1967
Peter Green gtr
John McVie bs
Aynsley Dunbar or Mick Fleetwood dms

May 1967 to Aug 67
Mick Taylor gtr
John McVie bs
Keel Hartley dms
Chris Mercer tnr
Rip Kant bari

Aug 1967 to February 1968
Mick Taylor gtr
Keith Tillman or Paul Williams or Andy Fraser bs
Keef Hartley dms
Dick Heckstall-Smith tnr/sop
Chris Mercer tnr

February 1968 to July 1968
Mick Taylor gtr
Tony Reeves bs
Jon Hiseman dms
Dick Heckstall-Smith tnr/sop
Chris Mercer tnr
Henry Lowther tpt/violin

July 1968 to May 1969
Mick Taylor gtr
Steve Thompson bs
Colin Allen dms

May 1969 to when?
Steve Thompson bs
John Almond tnr/flute
Jon Mark acoustic guitar

This album is a unique article in that it clearly shows John Mayall's musical progression over a period of five years; it is also a collection of past single releases and in just 11 selections the changing patterns of the band musicians are brightly outlined and highlight the work of
some of whom incidentally have not been featured on album before.

Mike Vernon - May 1969

For 1990 CD reissue:


During November 1968 the final album of previously unreleased material owed to Decca U.K./London Records U.S.A. from Macclesfield's blues icon, John Mayall, was duly issued by the organization. In Britain Decca LK (Mono)/SKL (Stereo) 4972, entitled BLUES FRDM LAUREL CANYON, duly slipped into the ratings on the 18th January '69 for a 3 weeks run halted at 33, while Uncle Sam's identical package, available with divided channels only as London PS 545, managed a rather superior showing on their Billboard Top 200 following February 22nd's debut, remaining visible throughout 17 weeks for a high of 68. It was the first album, his actual THE BLUES ALONE excepted, to exhibit Mayall's name without that of his many-and-variously personneled Bluesbreakers; the latest stage in his on-going metamorphosis.

John had inked a new deal with the black and red logo-sporting German-based giant Polydor for his future projects, but disappointed as they were at the loss of one of their major artistes, Decca and Mayall remained on the best of terms and the latter co-laborated with his old vinyl promoters to assemble a compilation album from their vaults, providing several photographs and press clippings from his own scrapbook, and even designing the gatefold sleeve in which his handiwork was to be housed.

It showed how, since the inception of his first Bluesbreakers line-up in February 1963, the band - or perhaps those participating might better be described as his employees had evolved and when, the ninth working head count at the foot of the column fittingly annotated as 'May 1969 to when?', our main man's much underestimated dry sense of humour showing through, as ever.

Selecting a title for the long-player wasn't at all difficult, one of its inclusions, LOOKING BACK, providing a ready-made identity, and so in August 1969 the elaborately-sleeved artifact premiered here as LK/SKL 5010, America's reciprocation available as PS 562.

Upon this sceptred isle Mr. Mayall's history lesson rattled the cage of our then Top 50 twelve inchers immediately, calling in as of August 23rd whence it dallied for 7 weeks and peaked at 14, while across the great watery divide admirers demonstrated similar appreciation of our subject's past by troubling those who tally up hot retail items as of 13th September. Remaining in harness for 12 weeks, it scampered up to 79.

Although, since the legendary BLUES BREAKERS set with Eric Clapton in 1966, John's long-players had been regular visitors to the published best-sellers, he had not enjoyed even a solitary seven days here on the singles equivalent, but it hadn't been for the want of trying. Where the Stars and Stripes court the breeze London too had issued a handful of seven inchers for their own market requirements usually incorporating alternative material culled directly from albums and circulated to the media as promotional tools for the benefit of their big brothers rather than as expected smash hits but in his homeland this wasn't always the case; most had been cut purely and simply with 45 purchasers in mind.

In truth, the majority of these singles were not major sellers and fairly quickly headed for the deletion bins; LOOKING BACK was a perfect opportunity to weld ten such titles together for the LP market, with the added bonus of one previously unreleased track. Briefly, here is some historical data relating to its contents, for convenience of understanding related in chronological rather than the set's actual running order

From his very first two track session, and one of only a few numbers committed at other than Decca's own West Hampstead studios during his period with us, MR. JAMES dates from 2Oth April 1964 and features Mayall (Piano, Harmonica, Vocals); John McVie (Bass); Bernie Watson (Guitar) and Martin Hart (Drums). Purchased from Link Records, this was the flip side of the Bluesbreakers' inaugural seven incher deposited on the same date, CRAWLING UP A HILL, unveiled in the United Kingdom only as Decca F 11900 on May 8th of that year, both decks subsequently being Mayall's contributions to the multi-act compilation RHYTHM AND BLUES (LK 4616, Rel. August 1964, Mono & U.K. Only).

From February 26th 1965's four opusget-together, BLUES CITY SHAKEDOWN was pencilled in to balance the Cheshire lad's second British single, CROCODILE WALK. As F 12120 it could be obtained from discerning dealers commencing April 2nd '65 (U.K. Only), and featured in addition to the paymaster and McVie guitarist Roger Dean and trap-rattler Hughie Flint.

Both faces of our ex-Manchester Junior School Of Art incumbent's fourth single upon this jewel set in a silver sea are on tap, again neither of which craved attention on a 'legitimate' Mayall LP, LOOKING BACK and SO MANY ROADS (F 12506, 21st October 1966, U.K. Only). Witnessed in action on both tracks are Messrs Mayall, McVie, Peter Green (Guitar) and Aynsley Dunbar (Drums). Their endeavours took place on 3Oth September 1966.

Issued fairly soon afterwards, on 13th January 1967 to be precise, was SITTING IN THE RAIN/OUT OF REACH, the inclement 'A' side of which greets us here. Cut, unlike its reverse which was assembled later, at the liaisons for A HARD ROAD, participating personnel was identical to that for our last brace of titles (F 12545). An acoustic number by design, Dunbar was instructed to play on the back of Mayall's guitar rather than use his drum kit, a request which apparently did not amuse he who received it on 11th October 1966.

The seventh Bluesbreakers small platter excursion in Britain also gave up both of its constituent parts, DOUBLE TROUBLE and IT HURTS ME TOO. Combined to make up F 12621 on 2nd June 1967, McVie, Green and John M - the last-named heard picking at his famous nine-stringed guitar-were augmented in the rhythm section by one-time member of The Cheynes and The Bo Street Runners, Mick Fleetwood. He stayed with Mayall only a few weeks, departing in June '67, these syncopations revealing a birth date of April 19th that same term.

Next miniature carbon pellet to attempt to rally the troops was SUSPICIONS (PARTS ONE & TWO) (F 12684, 2Oth October 1967), the sunny side of which also gained life where the bald eagle flies as London 45-20035, but with OH PRETTY WOMAN - from the recent CRUSADE extravaganza - to keep it company instead. Perhaps it was the length of (PART TWO), which concerns us here, that prompted their amendment, but whatever the reason it affects not at all the facts that both halves were etched onto magnetic oxide on September 14th & 15th 1967. Only Mayall was still extant from the ensemble of old, being now accompanied by one of his 'big bands' billing Mick Taylor (Guitar); Paul Williams (Bass); Keef Hartley (Drums), along with reed men Dick Heckstall-Smith (Tenor/Soprano Saxes) and tenor blower Chris Mercer. SUSPICIONS (PART ONE), incidentally, would find an album outlet in 1971 via a later compilation dedicated to J.M. rarities, THRU THE YEARS.

The ninth Bluesbreakers stab at the singles mode also donated its entire contents to this collocation, PICTURE ON THE WALL and JENNY being the works in question. Issued identically upon either bank of the big pond, F 12732 trumpeted its arrival on February 9th 1968 here, while 45-20037 prepared to do likewise in its own mighty territory. John Mayall sang and played guitar and piano on JENNY, with only Peter Green's six-string for company, while PICTURE utilized John's voice and guitar prowess, Keef Hartley's percussive skills and Peter's nimble digits on a steel guitar. Recording dates? December 4th (JENNY) and 5th (PICTURE) 1967

The only piece which had never departed the vaults before LOOKING BACK was STORMY MONDAY. Recorded on 17th March 1966, here Mayall and Flint were joined by two-thirds of the soon-to-be world acclaimed 'power trio', Cream, individually Eric Clapton (Guitar) and bassist Jack Bruce.

So there we have it, some two decades on since first conceived, LOOKING BACK now makes the transition to Compact Disc. An essential collection which, as regular Mayall producer Mike Vernon noted all those years ago, makes a fascinating aural document highlighting a unique personality's career over a five year span, simultaneously affording us glimpses at the youthful endeavours of so many of his 'pupils'. John Mayall was and, as I write, thankfully remains, a character music lovers in general, and blues aficionados in particular, should hold in high esteem. We owe him much, as this montage illustrates.

London, 1990

    Reviews »
Add your review here.

Useful cleaner
Review written by John Fitzgerald, March 19th, 2005

It's hard to say how well this album would stand up against his straight out releases but for collectors this is a big and important piece of the puzzle as every track here has a Mac member on it somewhere except the tumbling horn chanter "Suspicions (Part 2)" and the slow blues "Stormy Monday" (though it does have a very fuzzy sound quality, it is worth it and also an album highlight as it's mostly a great Clapton guitar showcase save for Mayall shouted vocals that appear three minutes in to the track until the end) and all of these Mac related tracks along with those on the other useful Mayall compilation called "Thru the years" plugs up most of the holes. Two tracks here that have John McVie on bass are the strolling opener "Mr. James" (featuring guitar, harmonica & piano) and the harmonica led instrumental "Blues city shakedown" (which always sounds like it's going to take off but then never really does, though likable). Both of these tracks have that mono-ish sound similar to what you'd hear on the "John Mayall Plays John Mayall" album. Jumping ahead, Peter Green had returned to Mayall as a guest after Fleetwood Mac had started their journey on two single tracks included here, the moving echoy slow blues howler "Jenny" and the slidy tapping country blues of "Pictures on the wall". The tracks that feature Peter Green and John McVie are the tap dance feel of "Sitting in the rain" (also including light guitars), the horn featured slow blues of "So many roads" (which has Mayall, in his yowling vocal stylings to me having a smoother quiet Robert Plant feel on this one) and the fast rocking honker "Looking back" on which Green's lead solo parts sound of Clapton's leads more here that anywhere else (could be said for his leads on "So many roads" as well to an extent). This makes for interesting listening in hearing Peter's own style grow. The two tracks of most interest to Mac fans here will be the inclusion of the two Mayall tracks that have Peter, John & Mick Fleetwood all playing on them which are the slowish Elmore James type chug of "It hurts me too" (which employs a slight stroll feel) and the preferable "Double trouble" which has skipping drums, good light leads by Peter and together with McVie's bass, you can feel the power brewing in that dynamic rhythm section on this subtle track. It's debatable as to whether this album flows as a whole but this album is a gold mine for collectors that'll most likely listen to it by separate song plays anyways so this will get you well on your way through collecting some essential Mac related Mayall tracks.

    Last Modified »
    Tracklisting »
Discography entry submitted by Anders Linnartsson & Jeff Kenney.