John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers - The Mono Singles Collection 1964-68
24bit/96kHz (High Resolution Audio for DVD burning)
01. Crawling Up A Hill
02. Mr. James
03. Crocodile Walk
04. Blues City Shakedown
05. I'm Your Witchdoctor
06. Telephone Blues
07. On Top Of The World
08. Lonely Years
09. Bernard Jenkins (Clapton)
10. Parchman Farm (Allison)
11. Key To Love
12. Looking Back (Watson)
13. So Many Roads (Paul)
14. Sitting In The Rain
15. Out Of Reach (Green)
16. Curly (Green)
17. Rubber Duck (Green, Dunbar)
18. Double Trouble (Rush)
19. It Hurts Me Too (London)
20. Suspicions Pt.1
21. Suspicions Pt.2
23. Picture On The Wall
All Tracks by John Mayall, except where indicated.
All selections appear in their original monaural mixes as prepared shortly after the sessions. The majority were later remixed to stereo, with the exception of Tr.
1,2,5,6,7,8,9 which only exist in mono.
The mastering on all of these tracks differs considerably from the official remasters. The authentic original sound is presented here for the first time on CD.
- Technics 1210mk2
- Jelco SA-750D Tonearm (w/ JAC 501 cable)
- Audio Technica AT33PTG MC
- Pro-Ject Tube Box SE-2
- Yamaha CA-1010
- RME ADI-2 A/D Interface
- VPI 16.5 (using VPI brushes and Audio Intelligent’s Enzymantic formula, Super Cleaner Formula)
- Nitty Gritty mini-pro 2 (using Ultra pure water)
- Audition 3.0 used for adjusting DC bias, editing, (incl. manual removal of clicks and pops), adding gain and making cue points.
- Click Repair 3.8.3 used with setting Cl: various, Cr: 0
- CueListTool v1.7 & Mediaval CueSplitter used for generating the .cue's & .m3u's.
Compilation Produced and Transferred by Prof. Stoned
Artwork by Fishanthrope
Linernotes edited by Mrs. Stoned
This project started in February 2011 when I first made the blueprint for this collection and recorded what I had on hand. I have been researching and looking to upgrade
the sound quality of certain tracks ever since, and bought a good number of original UK 45s in the process. It was a difficult project to complete because most of the
purchases failed to deliver the audio quality I'd hoped for due to wear to the grooves. But now, nearly two years later, I believe that all of the tracks here are presented in
their best -or at least in their most authentic- possible sound quality. For the record: everything here was taken from vinyl and no tracks were taken from re-channelled
fake stereo sources.
One might think that the best place to hear any of these tracks would be original UK 45s. However, a few years back I stumbled upon a vinyl album called So Many
Roads* from 1967 in clean condition. It was compiled specifically for the Dutch market in close association with Mayall himself. He provided the detailed liner notes, too.
This disc collects about half of the tracks here in true mono and also in slightly better quality than the original 45s (because it lacked some of the compression that was
added before the disc cutting). A great find and without it I wouldn't even have thought about trying this.
The following is a list of the selections with all the information I was able to retrieve:
"Crawling Up a Hill / Mr. James" - These two tracks were recorded during Mayall's first studio session. The single ended up selling only a meagre 500 copies. While Mayall
would later dismiss the A-side as rubbish (and withhold it from one or two compilation albums), it is actually a very strong track. Upon hearing it during his English tour in
'65, Bob Dylan liked the song so much that he invited Mayall -along with a few other British artists- over for an informal recording session.
Producer: Ian Samwell / John Mayall: Vocals, Organ, Harmonica | Bernie Watson: Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Martin Hart: Drums
Recorded: April 20, 1964 / Released: May 8, 1964 (DECCA F 11900) / Sources: Rare Tracks Vol. 1 (CUAH) & So Many Roads (MJ)
"Crocodile Walk / Blues City Shakedown" - Despite appearing on the then-forthcoming live album John Mayall plays John Mayall, the song “Crocodile walk” was
repeated during this second studio session for Decca. But once again, the resulting single failed to make any impact on the charts, causing the label to drop the band for the
time being. The song “My baby is sweeter” was also recorded during this same session but remained in the vaults until it was remixed in stereo for the 1971 compilation
Thru the Years.
Producer: Tony Clarke / John Mayall: Vocals, Organ, Harmonica | Roger Dean: Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Hughie Flint: Drums
Recorded: February 26, 1965 / Released: April 2, 1965 (DECCA F 12120) / Source: So Many Roads
"I'm Your Witchdoctor / Telephone Blues" - Upon its initial release, the single sold poorly but these are two sublime tracks despite the somewhat lo-fi recording quality.
Mayall & BB never sounded quite as “garage” as this and “Witchdoctor” may be one of the most well-known tunes here; even Motorhead covered it in their early days.
Producer: Jimmy Page / John Mayall: Vocals, Organ, Harmonica | Eric Clapton: Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Hughie Flint: Drums
Recorded: June 1965 at Pye Studio's, London / Released: October 22, 1965 (IMMEDIATE IM 012) / Source: Blues Anytime Vol.1
"On Top Of The World" - This track was supposed to be the A-side of the 2nd single for Immediate, coupled with an early version of “Double Crossing Time” (presumably
lost), hence its inclusion here. However, the label decided to scrap the release and instead the track was first issued three years later on the Immediate compilation Blues
Anytime Vol.2. There is a tape dropout present at the beginning of the song on the mono master, which was carefully repaired in the digital domain for this compilation. **
Producer: Jimmy Page / John Mayall: Vocals, Piano | Eric Clapton: Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Hughie Flint: Drums
Recorded: December 2, 1965 at Pye Studio's, London / Released: 1968 (IMMEDIATE IMCP 015) / Source: Blues Anytime Vol.2
"Lonely Years / Bernard Jenkins" - These two demos were made by Mike Vernon in another attempt to get Decca to re-sign the group. It's safe to say that without his
enthusiasm and effort the careers of Mayall, Green and Clapton would have run a different course (or maybe even flat lined). Eventually, the songs were first released on
Vernon's Purdah label in a very limited quantity (499 copies). These recordings were made with just one microphone and thus only exist in mono. Sundazed did a reissue of
the single -mastered from the original mixdown tapes- in 2011 as a limited Record Store Day release.
Producer: Mike Vernon / John Mayall: Vocals, Piano, Harmonica | Eric Clapton: Guitar
Recorded: Early 1966 at Wessex Sound Studios, London / Released: August 19, 1966 (PURDAH 3502) / Source: Sundazed 7" (Thanks, Justin!)
"Parchman Farm / Key To Love" - These were pulled from the so-called Beano album in order to capitalize on the success of that LP. This was transferred from an original
UK copy of the Bluesbreakers album instead of the 45, which sounded a bit more compressed.
Producer: Mike Vernon / Engineer: Gus Dudgeon / John Mayall: Vocals, Organ, Harmonica | Eric Clapton: Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Hughie Flint: Drums | Dennis Healey:
Trumpet | Alan Skidmore: Tenor Sax | John Almond: Baritone Sax
Recorded: March 1966 / Mixed: April 2, 1966 / Released: September 9, 1966 (DECCA F 12490) / Source: Bluesbreakers
"Looking Back / So Many Roads" - This was the first single to feature Peter Green, who arrived to find himself in a difficult position; after all, Clapton had left some pretty
big shoes to fill. Still, Mayall was eager to show that he had found an equally sensational axeman and Greeny was given plenty of room on the B-side to let it rip. Despite
largely resembling Clapton’s style, the solo in the middle part left no doubt as to what the new guy was up to. As usual, the single didn't make the charts but the fans were
reassured and the band was given the green light (pun intended) to record another full-length.
Producer: Mike Vernon / Engineer: Gus Dudgeon / John Mayall: Vocals, Guitar | Peter Green: Lead Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Hughie Flint: Drums | Henry Lowther:
Trumpet | Nick Newell: Tenor Sax | John Almond: Baritone Sax
Recorded: September 30, 1966 / Released: October 21, 1966 (DECCA F 12506) / Source: So Many Roads
"Sitting In The Rain / Out Of Reach" - Recorded during the Hard Road sessions. John Mayall gave Peter Green another opportunity to showcase his talents on the B-side,
resulting in a melancholic slow blues with superb singing and playing by the protégé.
Producer: Mike Vernon / Engineer: Gus Dudgeon / John Mayall: Vocals (SITR), Guitar | Peter Green: Vocals (OOR), Lead Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Aynsley Dunbar:
Recorded: October 11, 1966 / Released: January 13, 1967 (DECCA F 12545) / Sources: So Many Roads & Orig. UK 7" ***
"Curly / Rubber Duck" - This single did not include John Mayall at all and thus was billed as "The Bluesbreakers". As Mayall explained in 1967: "...because Peter wanted
to front a single of his own, I kept out of the way while my three rebels made Curly and Rubber Duck." The same session also yielded "Greeny" and "Missing You" which
would end up on the compilation Thru the Years.
Producer: Mike Vernon / Peter Green: Guitar, Harmonica | John McVie: Bass | Aynsley Dunbar: Drums
Recorded: February 16, 1967 / Released: March 24, 1967 (DECCA F 12588) / Source: So Many Roads
"Double Trouble / It Hurts Me Too" - By now, Mick Fleetwood had joined the band at Aynsley Dunbar's expense, and these are presumably the only studio recordings ever
released by this short-lived line-up (which would soon merge into Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac).****
Producer: Mike Vernon / John Mayall: Vocals, 9-String Guitar, Piano, Organ | Peter Green: Lead Guitar | John McVie: Bass | Mick Fleetwood: Drums
Recorded: April 19, 1967 / Released: June 2, 1967 (DECCA F 12621) / Source: So Many Roads
"Suspicions Pt. 1+2" - Mayall had wanted to expand his band with a horn section for some time. Many of his fans opposed the departure from the bass/drum/guitar format.
This single was recorded by a line-up in between those performing on Crusade and Bare Wires.
Producer: Mike Vernon / John Mayall: Vocals, Guitar | Mick Taylor: Lead Guitar | Paul Williams: Bass | Keef Hartley: Drums | Dick Heckstall-Smith: Tenor & Soprano
Saxes | Chris Mercer: Tenor Sax
Recorded: September 14, 1967 / Released: October 20, 1967 (DECCA F 12684) / Source: Orig UK 7"
"Jenny / Picture on the Wall” - Billed for the first time as "John Mayall" without the Bluesbreakers. The mournful ballad on the A-side is one of the hidden jewels in
Mayall's extensive catalogue, not in the least because of Greeny's pure guitar bliss.
Producer: John Mayall (A), Mike Vernon (B) / John Mayall: Vocals, Guitars, Piano | Peter Green: Lead Guitar | Keef Hartley: Drums
Recorded: December 4, 1967 (A) & December 5, 1967 (B) / Released: February 2, 1968 (DECCA F 12732) / Source: Orig UK 7"
All songs were recorded at the Decca Studios, West Hampstead, London unless indicated otherwise. The last UK Decca singles "No Reply / She's Too Young" (DECCA F
12792) and "The Bear / 2401" (DECCA F 12846) are omitted from this compilation because they were not mixed to mono, but rather are fold downs from the stereo
album mixes. Also not included is the EP with Paul Butterfield (DECCA DFE-R 8673) because, well, it was not a single.
My goal with this compilation has been to preserve the sound as it was originally on the records, or better yet, in the studio. Naturally, there are differences in tonality since
these tracks are all from different sessions. But with the exception of three tracks, nothing here stood out to me as poorly balanced. Tracks 1, 5 & 7 sounded a bit tinny
compared to the other tracks and I have taken the liberty to improve those with some conservative EQ moves (Universal Audio Precision). The currently available
remasters do sound okay in their own right but I do object to the consistent use of digital noise reduction on recordings that have very little hiss to begin with and it could
be argued that the intention and feel of the original recordings has been compromised in an effort to update the sound.
Countless hours of thought and labour went into this and I am extremely pleased that I've been able to complete it and have it sound and look the way it does. So, sit back,
dim the lights, press play and...
Enjoy! Prof. Stoned Oct. 2012
*Record collectors: stereo copies of this LP abound because it was re-pressed many times in the Netherlands and Germany throughout the 70s and 80s, but these editions
are NOT worth picking up because the tracks were subjected to the electronically re-channelled stereo process. What you want is the more difficult to find mono version
(DECCA XBL 646029). Here's a hint: be on the look out for a Belgian copy (with either mono or stereo on the sleeve). All Belgian 60s and 70s pressings with purple
sleeve were cut from the original Dutch mono metal parts. Admittedly, they are rarely seen on eBay, but at least you'll have a better chance of finding a clean copy. As for
the Dutch pressings: the only mono copies are the originals from 1967 and those are always, and I mean always, in either trashed or very good (at best) condition. Last but
not least: try to steer clear of the UK mono version of the Looking Back album (aside from collectors value), because it is a straight fold down of the stereo version. So
Many Roads remains the only 12" where you can hear the original 45 mono mixes of these songs.
** In 2007, a different mix appeared on the Deluxe Edition of the Bluesbreakers album. According to the sleeve notes, the track had been remixed to stereo for the first
time from the long-lost original 4-track session tape. However, when listening on headphones, it quickly becomes apparent that the only thing "stereo" about this version is
the excessive (digital) reverb. Furthermore, if you manage to listen through the reverb, the balancing and sound is exactly the same as the original, including the loud
rhythm guitar. The only difference is the absence of the double-tracked vocal parts in the chorus; one vocal line is missing. So, what we have here is really a
work-in-progress mono mix, one step away from completion, and drowned in reverb to mask its true whereabouts. A similar thing happened with the song “Ruby Tuesday”
on the 2002 Rolling Stones ABKCO remasters; although in that particular instance I believe it was probably just an ignorant but honest mistake.
*** Unfortunately, a defect occurred on these two tracks during the mastering for the So Many Roads LP. There is this high-pitched oscillating noise that starts at 3/3 of
SITR and continues 1/3 through OOR. I tried to remedy this problem by attempting to replace it with a transfer from a clean original 45 and ended up buying no less than
three copies. Sadly, all three of them had been subjected to a crude stylus with too much weight. However, since it was not a constant noise, I was able to create a good
sounding master for both songs by using the So Many Roads source and patching in many small segments from the least damaged sounding 45. Luckily, the vinyl sources
matched close enough in sound, otherwise it wouldn't have worked out as well as it did.
**** In addition, four early Fleetwood Mac tracks were recorded during this session. Namely, "First Train Home", "Fleetwood Mac", "No Place To Go" and "Looking for
Somebody"; the former two appear on The Original Fleetwood Mac and the other two are on the group's debut Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac. None of these tracks ever
appeared in true stereo because by the time Mike Vernon needed to remix them for the above mentioned albums, he was not employed by Decca anymore, which probably
meant that he no longer had access to the session tapes.