After a successful US tour, 1968 continued with more lineup changes for the Bluesbreakers, Bassist Keith Tillman left and was replaced by a young Andy Fraser, who himself didn't last long (he went on to be a founding member of Free) and was replaced by Tony Reeves. Drummer Keef Hartley also left and was replaced by Jon Hiseman (who had been previously playing with The Graham Bond Organization). They also found a new member in Henry Lowther, who played both cornet and violin. So when they came to recording their next album, the band consisted of John Mayall (vocals/harmonica/keyboards/guitar), Mick Taylor (lead guitar), Dick Heckstall-Smith (sax), Chris Mercer (sax), Henry Lowther (cornet/violin), Tony Reeves (bass) and Jon Hiseman (drums).
Bare Wires was released in the summer of 1968, and it turned out to be a very interesting milestone in Mayall's career. With this album he started to experiment more, stepping outside of the familiar blues constraints, incorporating more jazz elements. With the new lineup the focus was no longer just on Taylor's lead guitar, and there were plenty of solos from Heckstall-Smith, Mercer and Lowther. The material was also by now all original, as he no longer was relying on covers of American blues songs. The first half of the album was one twenty minute track labelled as a suite, but in realtiy was just several seperate songs strung closely together.
Heckstall-Smith, Reeves and Hiseman all left after this album to form Colosseum. Mercer and Lowther also didn't stay for much longer, and before long only Taylor remained by Mayall's side. Bare Wires was actually the last album to feature the Bluesbreakers name - after this his albums would be simply credited to him as a solo act, though it didn't change his relationship with his backing musicians in any way, and he was soon recruiting new musicians to play with.
Diary Of A Band (1968) <|> Blues From Laurel Canyon (1968)
More from John Mayall