The Blues Alone is a 1967 electric blues album recorded by John Mayall on which he recorded all the parts himself, with the exception of percussion which was provided by longtime collaborator Keef Hartley.
The cover art and the original LP sleeve design are by John Mayall. Sleeve notes, including track notes, were written by noted DJ John Peel. The following quote is of interest regarding the album concept.
I was featuring his LP A Hard Road on the air and was amazed that, in addition to writing 8 of the 12 numbers on the record, playing 5 [sic] and 9 string guitar, organ, piano, harmonica and singing, he had written the sleeve notes and painted the portrait of the group on the front cover.
With this new LP, he has carried all of this to its logical conclusion and has produced a record featuring no other musician than himself except for the occasional aid of his drummer Keef Hartley.
“Down the Line” is a sparse lament featuring vocals over a cold-sounding slide guitar and piano accompaniment. “Sonny Boy Blow” is a harmonica-driven boogie tribute to the then-recently deceased Sonny Boy Williamson. “Marsha’s Mood” is a slow, deliberate and passionate piano solo constructed over a descending bass figure. “No More Tears” features rare examples of Mayall’s solo lead guitar playing. “Catch That Train” is a “train” harmonica solo over accelerating rhythms provided by a recorded steam locomotive beginning a journey. “Harp Man” is also an instrumental, adding celesta to the more traditional blues instruments of harmonica and bass. In the sleeve notes, John Peel commented: “There is no truth to the rumours that the Bluesbreakers will be using dulcimer, sackbut and psaltery. Let’s face it, guttural cries of “Let’s hear your sackbut, son!” can only lead to violence.” In fact the instrument had previously been used in jazz and piano boogie pieces by artists such as Meade Lux Lewis. “Brown Sugar” is another slide guitar piece, not related to the famous Rolling Stones track of the same name, although both songs use the expression to mean the same thing. The slow, tender track “Broken Wings”, accompanied by organ, elicited particular praise from Peel. (by wikipedia)
With a release coming only two months after Crusade, The Blues Alone, the first Mayall “solo” album (i.e. without The Bluesbreakers), was John Mayall’s third album of 1967, or fourth, if you count the various artists compilation Raw Blues. Like Raw Blues, it was released initially on Decca’s discount Ace of Clubs label to distinguish it from a regular Mayall album, although the distinction has been lost over time. It was actually recorded prior to Crusade on May 1, 1967. Mayall played and overdubbed all instruments except drums, which were handled by Bluesbreaker Keef Hartley, which was one way of dealing with his ongoing personnel difficulties (by this time, his bassist, John McVie, had left to join Fleetwood Mac). It also served notice that, despite his band being a spawning ground for several British stars by now, the real star of the group was its leader. But it didn’t quite prove that, since Mayall, while certainly competent on harmonica, keyboards, and guitars, doesn’t display the flair of an Eric Clapton or Peter Green, and the overdubbing, as is so often the case, robs the recording of any real sense of interplay. (The Blues Alone hit #24 in the U.K. and #128 in the U.S.) (by William Ruhlmann)
“Broken Wings” was later recorded by the great Atomic Rooster !
John Mayall (vocals, guitars, harmonica, keyboards, celeste (on 09.) (track 9), drums (on 01. + 05.)
Keef Hartley (drums)
01. Brand New Start 3.27
02. Please Don’t Tell 2.33
03. Down The Line 3.44
04. Sonny Boy Blow 3.50
05. Marsha’s Mood 3.15
06. No More Tears 3.12
07. Catch That Train 2.19
08. Cancelling Out 4.20
09. Harp Man 2.44
10. Brown Sugar 3.44
11. Broken Wings 1.59
12. Don’t Kick Me 3.11
All songs written by John Mayall