The late 1960s yielded a remarkable crop of British blues-based rock guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Rory Gallagher, Peter Green ….. and Mick Abrahams.
Back then, Mick Abrahams’ guitar playing profile was on a par with that of his contemporaries. And now – nearly thirty years later – he is playing better than ever.
But let’s start the story back then …
What Is A Wommett
Go to the Squirrel Shop and buy Mick’s autobiography, and all will be revealed!
The roots of Mick Abrahams’ musical career were typical of aspiring guitarists in the mid-sixties, taking in stints with R&B groups like The Hustlers, The Toggery Five, Screaming Lord Sutch, Neil Christian’s Crusaders (replacing Jimmy Page) and his own McGregor’s Engine.
By late 1967, Mick had become a founder member of Jethro Tull, and throughout 1968 the band built up a reputation based on the already distinctive blues guitar of Abrahams and the flute playing and wild stage persona of Ian Anderson. The band’s unique blend of blues, jazz and rock was reflected in their first album This Was, an immediate UK chart hit. However, having two such strong personalities as a twin focus was always going to be a recipe for musical incompatibility, and Abrahams jumped ship at the end of 1968.
While Tull sailed a new course away from the blues under Captain Anderson, Mick formed his own band, dubbed Blodwyn Pig by a stoned hippy friend just back from the Buddhist trail. Their two albums, 1969’s Ahead Rings Out and 1970’s Getting To This, were a delightful amalgam of the ‘progressive blues’ of This Was and the jazzier influences of saxophonist Jack Lancaster, and both albums spent several weeks in the UK Top Ten charts. America also embraced the band in the course of two tours there.
At that stage Blodwyn Pig looked destined for great things – but the old ogre of musical differences reared its ugly head, and Abrahams left his own band. Blodwyn Pig soldiered on for a while, but Mick’s presence had been too vital a factor in their success and the Pig died.
The early seventies saw Mick on Top Of The Pops and In Concert on Radio One with The Mick Abrahams Band, showcasing two fine guitar-driven rock albums in (A Musical Evening With) Mick Abrahams and At Last. The band enjoyed success throughout Europe, but record company support was less encouraging and after a short-lived Blodwyn Pig reunion in 1974 (immortalised via another Radio One live broadcast), a disillusioned Mick Abrahams effectively quit the music business.
So here we are in the new millennium, and Mick Abrahams’ recording career is busier than ever. After spending the rest of the seventies and most of the eighties in civvy street, with just the occasional appearance at charity gigs to remind us of what a great guitarist the ex-Pig was, Mick Abrahams was persuaded by the enthusiastic response of the fans to these one-off gigs to resuscitate Blodwyn Pig – and what a fine decision it turned out to be.
Far from simply trading on past glories, however, Mick spent the Nineties writing and recording new music, both with Blodwyn Pig and as a solo artist. 1991’s All Said And Done featured an impressive selection of new songs and stage favourites, while 1993’s Lies was a sparkling collection of self-penned tracks. The Blods’ dynamic stage performance was captured on the live 1994 album All Tore Down, and the 1996 solo electric blues album, Mick’s Back, featured four new songs alongside a number of standards.
And in between he found time to guest on a number of other artists’ albums, most notably on the Peter Green tribute album Rattlesnake Guitar alongside an illustrious “Who’s Who” of the blues.
The most remarkable 1996 album, however, was the solo release One, which featured Mick just on acoustic guitar (“unpigged”), augmented on four tracks by the mandolin, harmonica and flute of his erstwhile Jethro Tull cohort, Ian Anderson.
The renewed working relationship with Anderson had started in the early 1990s with a couple of live reunions at fan conventions. It has since continued with Mick making special guest appearances at Jethro Tull concerts – while Ian has even played live with Blodwyn Pig. That Ian should volunteer to play on One is as high as a testament as any to Mick’s remarkable talents.
And still the man continues to produce new music …
Mick¹s album See My Way further demonstrates what his fine songwriting in a range of styles, from slow tear-jerking blues to acoustic finger-picking ditties to driving fist-waving rock.
The line-up for this brilliant album included some very distinguished guest musicians, including Elliott Randall, Dave Bronze, Geoff Whitehorn and Jim Rodford.
Possibly Mick¹s finest album to date, it also marked a new direction as this was his debut as a producer – and proof of his dedication to continue to make and produce great blues, country, rock and jazz influenced music that is unique and heart felt.
There are plenty of good guitarists around. One of the hallmarks of a great guitarist is the development of a personal style – and the big, rich sound of Mick’s rolling and tumbling licks are instantly recognisable, whether he is blasting out a blurred-finger eye-bulging rocker or making his guitar weep to a mournful slow blues – all of which impelled Record Collector recently to describe the band as the “rockin’, rootin’, ripsnortin’ Blodwyn Pig”.
The fans too have welcomed Mick back with open arms. All the old Blodwyn Pig and Mick Abrahams Band albums are now available on CD alongside the newer material, and Mick continues to tour and entertain the audiences of Europe with his powerful bluesy rock and rockin’ blues.
The Mick Abrahams and Blodwyn Pig story – to be continued