This treasured piece of vinyl has survived countless house moves, three years of student living as well as one divorce, two marriages, one child, three stepdaughters and six grandchildren. It is also one of the well springs for much of my introduction and interest in the genre of Americana and could be argued that as a British artist John Mayall, with this album predicted and introduced a British view on this about-to-explode musical style. It was not a huge seller as it moved away from the ‘authentic’ blues sound that Mayall had been championing along with various band members Clapton, Fleetwood, Green, McVie et al. The Bluebreakers were dissolved and Mayall assembled a very young backing band Mick Taylor (19), Stephen Thompson (18) and Colin Allen (a stately 30). The album tells the story of a three-week holiday in Laurel Canyon in 1968 where Mayall ‘gets his head together and meets a groovy lady’. It is very much of its time but the music has legs… long, long legs. The fold-out gatefold is hilarious when viewed with modern sensibilities – basically Mayall yomping through the undergrowth in various states of undress, making a fire and looking wistful. In the notes he describes LA as his new ‘home’ as he embraces the lifestyle of late 60s California.
The album opens and closes with jet noises and both opening and closing tracks feature extended Taylor workouts. He was snapped up by the Stones the following year. The album progresses through some standard blues ‘Walking on Sunset‘, to the more progressive Stoneslike ‘2401‘, the acoustic wail of ‘Medicine Man’, the Norman Greenbaum skirl of ‘The Bear’, the Alan Pricey shuffle of ‘Miss James’ all the way to the confessional intimacy of the delicate ‘First Time Alone‘ punctuated by a mournful Peter Green guest guitar.
I clearly remember buying this album in a charity shop in York in 1978. It was ten years old. I was still in my teens. We are both growing old together 45 years later. The trademarked Clarifoil lamination is weathered but still doing the job.
Any charity shop worth its salt. CD about £5 new. Vinyl about £28 from a good collector in good condition. Interestingly, Mayall’s autobiography published in 2019 is also called ‘Blues from Laurel Canyon’.