"A forgotten album that's a dark horse candidate for Mayall's best work. Savage guitar from Mick Taylor; killer horns and percussion. A sense of sadness seeps deep beneath the blues. Very adult music from a musician who was growing old before his time and couldn't do anything about it."
Touches A Nerve
El Lagarto | Sandown, NH | 07/10/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When I was in college, you just weren't any fun at parties if you didn't have a good Bob Dylan impression in your pocket, as well as a good John Mayall impression. Mayall's singing was so overtly unnatural that he was a perfect target, it seemed he was straining for every note. That said, Bare Wires is the album where he stays within his range most effectively. The result is that for once one does not have to politely avert one's eyes when he sings.
Bare Wires is certainly Mayall's most unusual album, and in many ways his finest. In addition to the standard blues fare for which he is famous it includes strange and brooding experimental numbers like Bare Wires, Fire, I Know Now, and Sandy. Invariably surrounded by other terrific musicians, this effort boasts one of Mayall's best bands ever, including an outstanding horn section - Chris Mercer and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Henry Lowther adds some particularly eerie, and appropriate, grace notes with his fiddle and coronet. Jon Hiseman is excellent on drums and Tony Reeves anchors the effort well on his bass.
Mayall plays guitar, piano, and harmonica, writes, arranges, sings, and probably puts up the posters too. But he is a not a virtuoso at any of them. His greatness lies in his dedication to the blues and his ability to find and groom talent. For many years Mayall's band was an unofficial Blues Graduate School, turning out such legends-in-the-making as Eric Clapton and Peter Green. When Bare Wires was recorded, Mick Taylor was the new hot thing. (Mayall had originally found Taylor through a newspaper ad when he was only 18, long before his stint with the Rolling Stones.)
The one time I saw Mayall, at the Fillmore East, he had Taylor with him. The kid was putting on a clinic, he was out of his head. That same energy and flare are present throughout Barewires, even on slow numbers like Killing Time. But when you get to the upbeat tracks like Start Walking and Hartley Quits, you'll see why many consider Taylor every bit as good as Clapton, which is saying something. A marvelously obscure and curious CD certain to delight the true collector."
One of my favorite Mayall albums.
Wildman Fischer | 12/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Mayall is a throwback to the "big band leaders" of the early 40s. His greatest talents were recognizing and assembling great musicians; directing and leading those musicians; and arranging and creating great musical compositions. This album highlights all of those strengths and in my opinion is his best. I'm a big fan of Mayall and have all of his early works, 1980 and earlier. I rediscovered this album after I started switching my collection over to CDs...I had long lost or "misplaced" the vinyl. Oddly enough, I guess my aging has changed my taste a bit, because I now put Barewires at the top of the Mayall collection. There is more use of horns and the music is more--I guess "moody" is the right term. I love the suite; it has all the ups and downs of life..."I'm a Stranger" is one of the best songs done by Mayall, it has everything. "No reply", "Hartley Quits" lots of good cuts on this one. This album is so smooth; it's great for a laid back evening of cooling the soul! Jazz/Blues, when done right, isn't a struggle to listen to and this album can be listened to with your eyes closed and your brain set on idle..."
One of his best
kireviewer | Sunnyvale, Ca United States | 10/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is certainly the most ambitious album by John Mayall. The first track is a 22 minute suite where he lays out his personal trials and tribulations, from masterbating to problems with girl friends. This could be bad, but Mayall makes it work. The music that accompanies this piece is fantastic. It is lively, jazz and rock oriented blues. There are great solos throughout, especially the guitar solo from Mick Taylor.The rest of the album is more traditional but transitional for Mayall. On this ablum he is moving out of strict blues and getting more into jazz and rock. Besides Taylor, the album featurs Jon Hiseman on drums and Dick Heckstal-Smith on sax. Both would later form Colesseum.If you know John Mayall, you probably already know that he was a starting point for many musicians in the sixties, including Eric Clapton. An earlier group featured Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and Jon McVie before the formed Fleetwood Mac."
Killer set of tunes!
K. Scott | IN United States | 02/28/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, this album is just plain extraordinary. Secondly, some reviewer down below says this is the only Mayall and the Bluesbreakers album with guitarist Mick Taylor. I think Taylor has been on like 4 or 5 different Mayall albums over the years, my favorite of which is *Crusade* Micks first recording with the band in which he really shines on the guitar, much to the same level as Clapton did on the *Beano* Bluesbreaker album. Shame nobody has reviewed it here on Amazon yet so there's your first five star rating for that album. Bare Wires is a trippy, mesmerizing album that is just astounding and at times scary. The sheer level of musicianship involved is evident all over. Jon Hiseman is a wicked evil drum wizard with a killer groove and fantastic chops. Mick Taylor, already proven on Crusade takes things a step or three further and really delivers the goods on this album. The rest of the band is superb, probably Mayalls best lineup ever right here. But don't take my word for it, GET IT and then go out and get *Crusade*!!"