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Mick Taylor – Blues Summit (no label)

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Blues Summit (no label)

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London, England – May 5th, 2008

Disc 1:  In The Dead Of The Night, Fed Up With The Blues, You Don’t Love Me, Losing My Faith, You Gotta Move, Don’t Worry Baby

Disc 2:  MC, The Road We Chose, Hong Kong, Beautiful Girl, I’ve Got News For You, Blind Willie McTell/All Along The Watchtower, No Expectations, blues medley

“Mitch Mitchell and Colin Allen join Mick Taylor’s Blues Summit. With his once in a lifetime Blues Summit, Mick Taylor has invited several legendary artists to play together and with him for the first time.”

“Stellar guitarist Mick Taylor  started his career with John Mayall’s  Bluesbreakers when Peter Green left the band. He was recommended by John Mayall to Mick Jagger when Brian Jones left The Rolling Stones.  He joined the Stones at their artistic peak, featuring on live and studio albums, including the great “Sticky Fingers” and “Exile On Main Street”. He has played with artists such as Bob Dylan, written and recorded acclaimed solo albums, toured the US with The Jimi Hendrix Experience and, influenced from early days by Earl Hooker, developed his mastery of the slide guitar.”

“When The Jimi Hendrix Experience was formed, Mitch Mitchell brought a sublime, improvisatory jazz quality to rock drumming in this dynamic trio. This post be-bop drumming sensibility helped to transform the role of the rock drummer from an accompanist to a musician who had equal status and prominence with other musicians in a band. Mitch Mitchell was not simply a drummer. He was an inspired musical collaborator with Jimi Hendrix.”

“The sense of live performance excitement is also a feature of the great vocalist Terry Reid’s talents. In the 1960s and 70s Terry ‘Superlungs’ Reid was a cult figure. To gain an idea of just how extraordinary he is, it is helpful to remember that he was approached as vocalist for – and turned down – both Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple. Now resident in the US and rarely heard in the UK, this concert takes Terry Reid back to his roots and promises to be a breathtaking event.”

“On the 40th anniversary of the “Bluesbreakers” first US tour, this concert celebrates the lively heritage of what happened to blues and rock in the 1960s and 1970s.”

The above no label issue is captured in extraordinary fidelity capturing an outstanding performance. The set kicks off with the haunting and plodding “In The Dead Of The Night” in pristine clarity with Taylor’s wah wah guitar blistering in at 4:44 as this jam takes  off and closes at 9:33. Mick addresses the crowd with: “Good evening ladies and gentleman. My name is Mick…” The band performed “Fed Up With The Blues” next and Mick states after: “Who can ever get fed up with the blues…There is so much joy and happiness.”

“You Don’t Love Me” cooks with its plush and ever steady instrumentation that is both gripping and infectious. Taylor infuses his wailing guitar to elevate the mood as the track gathers steam and comes to a grinding halt. “Losing My Faith” follows from Taylor’s solo “A Stone’s Throw” album. “You Gotta Move” begins with a full blown band work-up with Terry Reid getting credit for his vocal performance as the band extends it to the 12:20 mark. I got a kick out of The Beach Boys “Don’t Worry Baby” which could have been stretched out past 5:52 and featured phenomenal percussion and guitar picking. The arrangement was scorching and soulful with romantic bravado. “The Road We Chose” is a Terry Reid number with Taylor lobbying his signature guitar picking until finally taking over the solid instrumentation. This track comes to a soft graceful close with rousing crowd applause.

Reid also leads the soft and touching ballad, “Beautiful Girl”.  “Blind Willie McTell” leading into “All Along The Watchtower” is from Taylor’s “A Stone’s Throw” 2000 studio release. The track features stellar sizzling guitar and evokes the melody of “All Along The Watchtower” with the lyrics to the latter sung at the 9 minute mark.  The Stones “No Expectations” is given an interesting and compelling extended up-tempo delivery that climaxes in full deserving swagger at 9:14.  Reid states prior to performing the encore: “It’s great to play with Mick because he’s the real deal.”

This unique and tremendous performance gathers a core of extraordinary musicians who blended their talents collectively in this highly recommended release. The sound quality is crystal clear with wonderful definition of all instruments. The only slight and incidental drawback is that Mick and Terry’s comments between numbers are recorded at lower levels and not audible at a lower volume. Their insight between tracks is insightful and adds to the relaxed and friendly atmosphere of this concert. This is a keeper!

Comment: 

This particular performance generated many responses on the IORR message boards, including: 

Hmmm, chaotic and I have to say amateurish are two words that spring to mind when thinking of last night’s show. Sure, Mick played some fine guitar, but the way he wandered around the stage it appeared as if it was such a hassle for him to be there. When he shuffled off at one point and Terry Reid stepped up to perform a couple of superb numbers (what a voice), someone in the audience shouted out “is this the Terry Reid show?” to which TR rather embarrassingly re-introduced Mick Taylor to the stage.

We complain on IORR sometimes about predictable setlists, last night was the other extreme as there didn’t appear to be a setlist and whilst there were undoubtedly some great musicians on the stage, no-one quite knew what was going on and if they had turned up to the right gig…..highlighted by the aforementioned 3 drummers sitting in a line, thus prompting Mitch Mitchell to air his comedic qualities rather than his drumming skills.

I was there too – and it was an absolute embarrassment. Mitch Mitchell looked (and played) like someone who’d been let out of a nursing home for the day – he’s clearly lost the considerable talent he once had. I was right at the front so could see what was going on. Mick shouted at him several times to ‘F*** off’ but he was obviously not listening. Eventually one of the stage hands coaxed him away from his kit but he came back at the end anyway.It was sad to see this – Mick, who was clearly on medication of some sort, seemed to be all over the place form the first number. Yes, he still pulled off some beautiful playing but it was very erratic. He seems to have some kind of self-sabotage thing going on – maybe borne out of years of frustration. I’ve seem him like this before but not to that extent. At the end his guitar lead fell out and he didn’t even bother plugging back in – just stood there swaying.Good on Terry Reid for keeping things going when Mick simply walked off. And it was great to see Sugar Blue who also gave the proceedings at least a brief element of excitement I was amazed they even came back on for an encore – and when they did they hadn’t even decided what to play. I heard Mick say – ‘I don’t care – whatever’ to Terry Reid. They tried to start ‘What I’d say’ which stalled after 20 seconds.What a mess. Totally unproffesional – and very saddening to witness.

At the start of the 4th song, Mitch Mitchell somehow managed to run across the stage and took position behind the drums – when he wasn’t supposed to – and proceeded to throw the rhythm section into disarray.  Unfortunately this interfered with Taylor’s concentration (he was just starting to get a vibe going) and got him demotivated. Terry Reid then stepped up to do his mini-set (which had been planned for later on) while Taylor walked off steaming and tried to compose himself backstage by smoking a cigarette.Attempts to drag Mitchell from behind the drumkit proved fruitless until someone offered to double his fee. By then he had already made a nuisance of himself by being unruly during Terry’s speech about the time he spent with Taylor in Hong Kong. (which formed the inspiration for Reid’s song “Hong Kong” which was performed last night, with Taylor on guitar).   

After this, it didn’t seem a very good idea to let Mitchell back on the stage. The whole setlist then went down the drain because they scrapped the songs he (Mitchell) had actually been hired to play on. The damage was done by then and Taylor had kind of lost the will to get on top of the problems. So the rest of the set was played by ear. It’s one of those cases where a guitarist that’s capable of brilliant playing is faced with too much adversity.

If only Mitch had done what he was told to AND at the right moment. For a drummer he really does have disastrous timing. The three drumkits were set up so adjustments don’t have to be done between songs, it’s obvious there were never meant to be three drummers on stage at the same time.

And finally:

Hi, I’m new here – my first post (quite long sorry!). I was at both the Q&A / Audience with MT as well as the QE Hall gig.

Going by the booking website for the Audience with MT, it seemed to indicate that of around 350 seats, at least 300 had sold, however when I got to the smallish Level Five Function room (in the Royal Festival Hall building in London), about 40 or so seats had been laid out, and probably there were only 25+ people at the event. So either a lot of people didn’t turn up or the booking site was misleading / incorrect (most likely). Anyway…. It was an interesting event.

We were all sat up close to the tables set up for Mick, Colin Allen and Terry Reid. There were microphones and a PA but this wasn’t needed. A chap who I believe worked for a guitar magazine was overseeing the event and was essentially going to start off interviewing the guys and said we could interrupt with questions. He introduced the guys and we clapped, and in they came, first time I’d seen Mick at all in the flesh. When they sat down Mick joked that it was a great applause for so small an audience, and hoped that if / when “our boys in Iraq” come home then he hopes they will also get as good applause. He added, “and that’s all I’ll be saying about politics!”.

The interviewer started off asking the guys about the 60s, mainly about John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Mick being auditioned as guitarist. The interviewer also mentioned that he himself had wanted to be auditioned for JMB in the 60s but said he didn’t have a decent guitar to play with. He asked Mick if he’d had a decent guitar at the time, he replied “Well, no. I had an Epiphone guitar, similar to what George Harrison was playing in the 60s”. Colin Allen (drummer for JMB ) and Mick also talked more about them both leaving JMB. Colin said that apparently John Mayall had allegedly said, “Now Mick’s gone then we can get rid of that other bad apple, Colin”, much to everyone’s including Mick’s amusement! Mick mentioned that he had once played with Jimi Hendrix and there was a tape of this, but this had gone up in smoke when John Mayall’s house in Laurel Canyon burnt down, along with a lot of other valuable tapes of John’s.

There was more discussion on Colin’s next musical ventures, also some questions to Terry about his singing career. Apparently, Aretha Franklin had said (in the 60s) that both Terry and the Stones were the only good thing happening in London musically! Terry had been well pleased to hear this at the time.

Some more questions were directed at Mick. One guy asked about his solo on Sway from Sticky Fingers, and was it planned out / rehearsed? Mick said the solo wasn’t planned out but the song had probably been performed in 3 or 4 takes, and was recorded at Stargroves. Mick explained that he used to collaborate a lot with Mick and Keith in the composing of various songs, casually mentioning “not that I got much credit for it. I mean in publishing royalties” !! Another question was about the band with Jack Bruce, but Mick didn’t really say much about this in response except that it didn’t really work out. He also talked about joining the Stones, and how he thought the first session (Live With Me, Honky Tonk Woman, plus lap slide guitar on Love In Vain) was just a session, but eventually realised he was being auditioned for the band…you will all know this story I’m sure. He said that Mick and Keith used to fight a lot, and he used to fight with Keith a lot. Mick also explained that back then they didn’t of course have the internet like you do now, where you can just download all sorts of music. Back then, he said, if you wanted to find out about blues music you had to make an effort to seek it out. Someone asked what bass players the three liked. James Jamerson was mentioned. The interviewer asked them about Bill Wyman. Mick said that Bill was a great player…”but one thing I always hated was that the Stones would often have the playback speakers in the studio control room blasting out the music really loud, with the bass so loud that it made me physically sick”. He also mentioned the story about buying the Les Paul guitar from Keith (“the Satisfaction guitar” he said). He turned up at Olympic Studios and met Ian Stewart who showed him the guitar, whilst Mick could see through the studio window – he could see the Stones recording Sympathy For The Devil, and remarked that they’d been wearing strange outfits. “I thought – God….!!”, we all laughed. Someone asked Mick about Brian Jones and Mick said that he had never actually met him, but (I think) had seen him perform (once?). He mentioned that when living in America (in the 1980s) he used to visit Keith up in his big penthouse, for a drink and a chat about old times…”but not so old times, looking back now!”. Mick also said that Jeff Beck is his favourite living guitarist (I’ve read elsewhere that Hendrix is his favourite all time guitarist).

When asked how the Blues Summit gig had come about, they were all a bit cagey about the reasons for the gig. Mick: “We all live in parallel universes….”, and Terry: “I live in the States, we live all over.”.., implying that who knows how it all came together..but some how it did.

There’s more but I can’t remember…was anyone else there? Mick was quite witty and pleasant to listen to, no sign of the grumpy guy to come the next night. The gathering lasted barely an hour, it seemed so quick. On my way out a couple of people lingered to get his autograph.

About the gig, I agree with all the comments above and Mick was great playing-wise. I also agree mostly about Mitch, but I will defend his playing. He has a syncopated drumming style, he never plays a straight beat, he plays around, before and after the beat like a jazz drummer, and this was pretty much his style at the gig. His duet with Terry was great I thought. It’s a shame he was acting the fool though, and I agree that his drumming wasn’t always appropriate or what was needed. Oh well….we don’t all grow old gracefully!

Tickets for the gig were £30 or £20. I paid £30. The Audience with MT was £18.

Cheers
WLY

CMR Music Store

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Mick Taylor - Blues Summit (no label), 2.5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings

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