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Baker's Dozen

Anthems: Laibach's Favourite Albums
The Quietus , February 3rd, 2016 12:31

As the musical wing of Slovenia's NSK collective continue their tour presenting songs from The Sound Of Music, the group's Ivan Novak gets licence to pick 13 albums that inspired them prior to forming Laibach

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John Mayall – The Turning Point
While listening to The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Canned Heat and other groups we got quite a knowledge about white blues and realised that it was all connected to this one key person, the blues godfather himself, John Mayall, who created the school of blues with his band, the Bluesbreakers. But it was really a different kind of blues from what we heard from American black blues masters… It was soft and somewhat psychedelic. Around '69 or '70, we got hold of his conceptual album Blues From Laurel Canyon, which sounded totally innovative by all standards, especially the standards of blues recordings. It was a very cinematic album, with a beginning and an end of 'the film'. There were no visible track divisions on the vinyl and the cover portrait photos were intriguing.

So this John Mayall album travelled from hand to hand and we were discovering his Bluesbreakers project retroactively, carefully listening to and comparing Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor's guitar playing, Jack Bruce and others. But the real surprise from Mayall was The Turning Point, the live album, which he recorded in 1969, after the break-up of the Bluesbreakers. This unusual and hypnotic acoustic blues album was performed with a combination of instruments that are not normally used in blues standards: flute, bass, slide guitar, tenor and alto saxophones, mouth percussions, acoustic guitar, also harmonica, of course… The recording itself was incredibly well done and the recording engineer was Eddie Kramer, who had also worked as an engineer with Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. The album had the unique approach of the blues genre and there are some unforgettable songs there, like 'The Laws Must Change', 'I'm Gonna Fight For You J.B.' and an especially brilliant ten-minute long 'California', with a stunning solo by Johnny Almond on saxophone. We learned how to transgress genre from John Mayall and from this album, which helped us a lot when we later created the music stratagem for Laibach. John Mayall performed some songs from The Turning Point when he first came to Ljubljana in 1975. I was still a teenager and I went to see his concert. Of course I was completely bewitched and after the show I waited for John Mayall as a true fan in front of his tour bus. Finally he came and he proved to be a very kind, father-like figure, he even showed me the bus briefly and 'invited' me to join him on tour. I was of course too young then, but many years later the tour bus has become my second home, and I never lost respect for John Mayall. He is 82 and still touring, performing shows almost every day, which is an absolutely impressive dedication to music.


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