Some John Mayall fans might be disappointed to find that the radically expanded two-CD edition of A Hard Road actually includes no previously unreleased material, even though it tacks on a whopping 22 additional tracks. It's more a complete document of the Bluesbreakers' recordings with Peter Green, of which A Hard Road was just the most prominent part. It might be an awkward fit for Mayall completists, since much of the bonus material also appears on other Mayall releases, particularly the Looking Back and Thru the Years compilations. For those just looking for a comprehensive overview of the Green-Mayall era, though, it's excellent, with the extra tracks including several non-LP singles (among them the 1967 B-side "Rubber Duck," which had never before appeared on CD); the A Hard Road outtakes that first showed up on the 1971 Thru the Years LP; the Green-sung and -composed "Evil Woman Blues," which was placed on the Raw Blues various-artists anthology; "First Time Alone," the Blues From Laurel Canyon track on which Green guested; and all four tracks from the 1967 EP that paired John Mayall's Bluesbreakers with Paul Butterfield.
A Hard Road itself was a good if uneven blues-rock album, highlighted by Green's incredible sustain on the instrumental "Supernatural" (a clear influence on Carlos Santana). Green also took some of the lead vocal and songwriting duties, though Mayall remained the dominant singer, whether on covers (the best of them being Freddie King's "Someday After a While (You'll Be Sorry)") or originals (highlighted by the uncharacteristically frantic "Leaping Christine" and the moody "Living Alone"). But some of the non-LP tracks are among the best recordings the Bluesbreakers did with Green in the lineup, like the supremely downbeat Green-written and -sung B-side "Out of Reach"; the quality outtake (again written and sung by Green) "Missing You"; the hard-edged outtake "Please Don't Tell," cut in March 1967 months after the A Hard Road sessions; and the haunting 1968 B-side "Jenny," actually done in late 1967 after Green had left for Fleetwood Mac, but featuring a return visit from him on lead guitar. Other extra tracks are duller and more routine, but at least it accounts for everything done by the Bluesbreakers with Green in tow, with the unimportant exception of a 1967 session on which they backed Eddie Boyd. Note, incidentally, that while Green and Mick Fleetwood briefly played together in the same Bluesbreakers lineup, just two tracks here (the 1967 single "Double Trouble"/"It Hurts Me Too") feature Fleetwood on drums.