Tuesday, April 3, 2018

John Mayall - The Turning Point (1969) + Bonus Tracks

(U.K 1956 - Present)
We can debate forever what Mayall's best records are, and many blues lovers would easily choose the album he did with Clapton, Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton. However, his most famous work, even if it wasn't his best, came several years after Clapton left to become a major guitar hero. It was in 1969, not long after Taylor left, that 'The Turning Point' was recorded live at the Fillmore East.

The Turning Point is unique because the concert and the subsequent album release featured an all acoustic quartet and no drummer, something unheard of in hard rocking 1969. Mayall played harmonica and acoustic guitar, Johnny Almond played sax and flute, Jon Mark played, according to Mayall, "acoustic finger-style guitar," and Steve Thompson was the bassist. Mark and Almond left not long after the album was released to form their own band.

Among the songs are the album's best known track, the exuberant classic "Room to Move," a piece that became famous for Mayall's mouth percussion gimmick, and there is the topical rant that opened the album, "The Laws Must Change," a song expressing his views on legalizing marijuana. However, the best tracks have bassist Thompson and woodwind player Almond stealing the show. Because this concert was "unplugged" (a term that was not yet used in 1969) the former's bass is front and center while the latter proved he can play with any bluesman or jazz band anywhere. Both shine on "Thoughts About Roxanne" and "California."

Mayall's vocals can be a distraction but once you get beyond them 'The Turning Point' is definitely a very rewarding experience. [notes by Charlie Ricci at bloggerhythms]
Journalist Chris Welch Reviews The First British Performance Of John Mayall's New Band
They're sensational! The new Mayall 'blues without bashing' band have suddenly developed into the most original, refreshing and exciting group in Britain, nay the world.

Minus a drummer and minus the usual battery of amplifiers, the band, as a result of John's inspirational change of formula are creating some of the most subtle and rewarding music I have had the pleasure of hearing in many moons.
At the Cambridge May Ball last week, the band received an ovation from the hippest audience ever to wear full evening dress and gowns. The new group, with fingerstyle guitarist Jon Mark added at the last moment, made their debut at the Paris Olympia and went on to tour Germany. Cambridge was their first English date.

John is playing harmonicas and electric guitar plugged into his PA system, having dropped organ, piano. Multi instrumentalist and looner extraordinary Johnny Almond is on flute tenor and alto.
The range of sounds and moods they obtain is staggering. It has to be admitted. I was extremely dubious about any band working without drums, which I thought could only lead to hours of boredom. However they played two sets, the second proving more together and intense than the first.

Johnny Almond's playing was brilliant throughout. After years of hard work with many English bands, he is surely destined to he a star. With the low level of volume he can play the sweetest sounds without being overwhelmed. The same holds true for the fine guitar of Jon Mark, who used to accompany Marianne Faithfull, before going into session work.

Steve Thompson on bass provided the firm pulse to their music and worked in such a way the absence of a drummer was quite un-noticeable after one became accustomed to the sound.
But the most remarkable feature of the new band is their interplay and empathy. Sometimes, perhaps only one member is playing, then the others join in gently, building up to climaxes that sound all the more exciting for the restraint that has gone before.
Talking later over a meal in the library, Mayall said the plan now is to get an LP nut of the new band and he wants to record it live at the Fillmore in America.
Speaking personally, I can't wait to see the effect they are going to have on the rest of the country and of course, the music scene [courtesy of Melody Maker 21st June '69]

This post consists of FLACS and MP3's (320kps) ripped from my newly acquired CD, another gem found in amongst a pile of classical titles at the local market.  Full album artwork for both CD and vinyl formats are included, along with 3 bonus tracks (available from the remastered / extended CD release), also recorded at the same Fillmore concert.

Track Listing
01. The Laws Must Change - 7:21
02. Saw Mill Gulch Road - 4:39
03. I'm Gonna Fight For You J.B. - 5:27
04. So Hard To Share - 7:05
05. California - 9:30
06. Thoughts About Roxanne  - 8:20
07. Room To Move - 5:03
08. Sleeping By Her Side - 5.10
09. Don't Waste My Time  - 4.54
10. Can't Sleep This Night - 6.19
The Band are
John Mayall (Vocals, Guitar, Harmonica)
Jon Mark (Acoustic finger-style guitar)
Steve Thompson (Bass Guitar)
Johnny Almond (Sax / flute)
John Mayall FLAC Link (357Mb) New Link 11/09/2018
John Mayall MP3 Link (65Mb)


  1. Thanks for this upload.

    I’ve been a John Mayall fan for over 50 years; I have the original LP and the first issue of the CD of The Turning Point. I wasn’t aware of the 3 “bonus” tracks that were issued on later re-issues of the CD and really appreciate the chance to hear these now.

    Any other Old Farts (like me) who check out this site may remember the wonderful radio programme on the ABC from the early ‘70s, hosted by Chris Winter - called Room to Move. He played decidedly non-commercial music (for that time) on his show, which was named after the Mayall song from The Turning Point album.

  2. Great album AR one of my faves I also have the vinyl.

  3. Thanks for the bonus tracks. I have had this album since I was about 15. It still gets a serious workout