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Category:    Home > Reviews > Concert > Blues > John Mayall - Godfather Of British Blues/Turning Point

John Mayall: The Godfather of British Blues/The Turning Point

 

Picture: C†††† Sound: C-†††† Extras: D†††† Main Programs: B+

 

 

So the British have the Blues.Who knew?Not this obviously ignorant American music fan.

 

Oh sure, weíre all aware of the influence Blues had on Eric Clapton.But, really, does anyone else in pop music from the last 40 or 50 years jump out as being a) British and b) Bluesy?

 

Turns out, though, that a number of our most celebrated musicians of the various British invasions were Blues-inspired.And not just any Blues inspired them ó it was the work of John Mayall, a pioneering musician who inspired Clapton, Claptonís first band The Yardbirds, Mick Taylor of the Rolling Stones and Mick Fleetwood, John McVie and Peter Green who were all, at one time or another, in Fleetwood Mac.

 

Not too bad for a guy who has limited name recognition on this side of the pond.

 

John Mayall: The Godfather of British Blues/The Turning Point sets out to change all that.And while a Brit audience will take more from whatís presented on this disc, itís not bad viewing for American music fans, as well.

 

The disc contains two programs, The Godfather of British Blues and The Turning Point. The former is a BBC-created special that chronicles the influence Mayall has had on British musicians in the run-up to a 70th birthday party that will see Mayall and Clapton, a former member of Mayallís Bluesbreakers band, reunite for the first time since the late Ď60s.The latter program is a short documentary (clocking in at 24 minutes) produced in 1968-69 centering on Mayallís transition from straight-up Blues to a simpler, stripped down sound.

 

Both programs are decent watches, packed with information about and testimonials about Mayall and his importance and impact.On The Godfather of British Blues, Mayall has a larger speaking role than he does on The Turning Point.(Suppose he was in that ďDonít bug me, Iím a brooding artistĒ mindset?)Whatís revealed in the first program is a soft-spoken, talented artist whose personality off-stage betrays the charismatic and affecting musician on-stage. We also see just what made this guy so influential on so many other British artists at the time.

 

But, when watching this disc, do yourself a favor: Watch The Godfather of Blues before The Turning Point.It might be tempting to watch the older program first, but if you do and you have no prior background on who Mayall is and what his music stood for, it will make little to no sense.Itís minimalist and avant-garde to a point, and will leave you scratching your head.If you watch the BBC documentary first, though, youíll get a more complete picture of Mayall ó it even includes clips from The Turning Point.

 

For as good as the programs are, though, itís a shame a greater care wasnít put into the sound, video and extras quality of the disc.The only extra to speak of is a photo gallery that is as much a throwaway extra as you can get.The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio on both programs is lackluster, which is understandable to a point for The Turning Point but wholly unforgivable for the BBC doc.The full frame video quality on the longer program is decent enough, but the same canít be said for the shorter one.Itís scratchy and difficult to watch.Itís a beat up old short doc, I know, but someone should have gone in to clean it up at least a little bit.

 

All in all, John Mayall: The Godfather of British Blues/The Turning Point is a decent enough package for the discerning music fan looking to expand their horizons.Just donít go into it thinking youíre getting the best possible presentation of the most important musician youíve never heard of.

 

 

-†† Dante A. Ciampaglia


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