Wednesday, 23 January 2013

1966 John Mayall - Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton

John Mayall & Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton - 'Steppin' Out', 1966.

Info: The one thing that always struck me when discovering great guitar bands from the 1960's and 1970's was how Eric Clapton seemed to keep cropping up in so many different places, and not only that, but the other great musicians who he would be playing with or would replace him in the same group. From the early days when he was in The Yardbirds from 1963-1965 (he would successively be replaced by Jeff Beck and his friend from the age of 15, Jimmy Page) at the tender age of 18, to his most successful group Cream (1966-1968), and on to Blind Faith (1969 with Steve Winwood), followed by Derek & The Dominos (when he wrote the hit epic 'Layla' made even more famous by Goodfellas) as well as playing with Keith Richards (Rolling Stones), John Lennon (The Beatles) and Mitch Mitchell (The Jimi Hendrix Exeprience) in super group The Dirty Mac in 1968. Clapton also recorded with famous blues guitarists Sonny Boy Williamson, B.B. King and contemporaries such as George Harrison, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)., not to mention appearing on The Band's famous album, The Last Waltz, in 1978.

The first time Eric Clapton fully got to express his unique brand of blues guitar was with John Mayall's Blues Breakers on the above album in 1966. During this period graffiti began appearing around London, most infamously at the Underground station at Islington proclaiming "Clapton is God", something he was always uneasy with, but may be reflected on this record. The fact that Clapton was only 21 at this stage of his career is astounding, and a testament to his abilities that organist John Mayall asked him to join the Blues Breakers at such a young age. The stand-out tracks, with regard to the young virtuoso's guitar playing, are a long solo on 'Have You Heard', 'Steppin' Out' (above video), 'Ramblin' On My Mind', my personal favourite 'Little Girl' and finally, opener, 'All Your Love'. The album itself is short coming in at only 37 minutes, but there is no fat on it whatsoever, and it is a joy to listen to unbroken from start to finish. Although Clapton released some wonderful solo albums, in particular 1974's, 461 Ocean Boulevard, there is consensus that he never reached the same level of blues playing since this album was recorded. On a side note, if you enjoy the above album, I would also highly recommend John Mayall's other two albums, A Hard Road (1967) and The Turning Point (1969) - special thanks goes to old friend Bryan for introducing me to this album 12 years ago. 

Track Listing:

1. All Your Love
2. Hideaway
3. Little Girl
4. Another Man
5. Double Crossing Time
6. What'd I Say
7. Key To Love
8. Parchman Farm
9. Have You Heard
10. Ramblin' On My Mind
11. Steppin' Out
12. It Ain't Right

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