September Blues AOTM: John Mayall's Bluesbreakers Ft. Eric Clapton


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necrosis1193
09-02-2009, 02:59 AM
First while I realize this is late for some people, in California right now, as of this writing it's 11:06 PM, so still on time in enough of the world that, while apologetic for cutting it so close, I feel it can still count. Really sorry about pushing the limit though, I completely forgot about this amidst messing with my setup and a very busy day. Also, for the record I may come off slightly as focusing on Slowhand, but the band leader and singer said in the CD booklet himself that he felt something special in Eric, and as such oriented the album towards his playing. Also I'm a rather big fan of Eric's, so that likely also has to do with it.

Anyway, tonight I'll be looking at a classic from the British Blues Boon; John Mayall's Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton, often affectionately called "The Beano Album" by fans, myself included, since Eric is reading a copy of the comic on the sleeve.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51DZp24lnEL._SS500_.jpg

To kick it off we have a cover of the old Otis Rush song, All Your Love. In addition to Eric's usual musicianship, especially in his Gibson period, the rest of the Bluesbreakers show some skill as well, and I still feel that John's singing is some of the finer singing from the British Blues Boon. This is also one of the finer examples of Eric's Les Paul + Bluesbreaker combo tone that always was teetering right near feedback from this album.

Next up is a timeless Freddie King classic and a staple of Blues in general, Hideaway. This is without a doubt one of my favourite tracks off the album, both since Eric is sounding like, as a friend of mine put it, "a lightning bolt" on the entire album, but particularly on this track to me, and because he really does a fine bit of respect to Mr. King.

Third on the album is the first original track we hear, a little number called Little Girl, a song about a girl Mayall was infatuated with who I believe lived a few rooms down from his flat. Again, the band is stellar and Eric stands out as he always does, particularly pre-Fender.

The next track is another original number, an original vocal/harmonica solo of John's with handclaps from the rest of the band to the beat, named Another Man. If I'm correct, the lyrics seem to be about men being sent off to prison, presumably unjustly based on the lyrics seeming to be sympathetic.

Next we have Double Crossing Time, the third original piece, this time one that Clapton helped write. At first it feels like a quality-but-cliche Blues number, but once the context of the lyrics was revealed to me I can't help but smile when hearing it and it's become another favourite off here for me. This was written shortly before Eric left for Cream and after Jack (Bruce) had, and was written about Jack, back when Eric was still feeling sad about his leaving and before he approached him with Cream.

Sixth on the album is the Ray Charles number What I'd Say. This one isn't as focused on Eric as much as the other tracks, or at least it also gives John a chance to show off on the organ. Probably the more notable fact is that this arrangement ends with a drum solo, and was often used to end their sets in the British pub scene. Also, on a fun little note, the closing riff Slowhand plays on the end is actually taken right off the Beatles hit Daytripper. To the point I even believe that one or more of the lads were credited if I recall the back of the jacket. Don't take me at my word for this, I'm not fully certain they were credited on the back or not, considering George and Eric were buddies it's possible he let him have it without credit.

Seventh we get Key To Love, another original penned by John Mayall, I believe about the same girl as Little Girl. They also added a horn section on this in the studio, which I think would've been interesting on the rest of the album. Though Eric does play another solo on here very much worth listening to, this one's always felt more centered around the horns to me.

The Mose Allison song Parchaman Farm is up next. Surprisingly, unlike most songs, this one wasn't arranged to center around Eric's guitar like John admitted he had them do in the CD booklet. I know it's not an original piece so what they could do is limited, but still it's a little surprising considering Eric was billed right up in the album title. Also note that this song features some more of John's harmonica playing, which I dearly love and am constantly wondering where the man breathes during.

Next is I believe another original composition though I feel like there are other versions of this from the 50's, so don't get mad if I got it wrong. The song is Have You Heard. This song has Clapton sharing leads with an anonymous saxophone player. Personally I love saxophones though, so I have no problems in the slightest with this. As always on this album Eric takes the solo for yet another blistering performance(Especially considering it was a first-take from 1966!)though, while the sax continues the riff. Also, note there's a beautiful example of Eric's vibrato from 4:50-4:55.

This one's a Robert Johnson cover, Ramblin' On My Mind, and is often cited as one of the first times Eric stepped up to the mic and took lead singing duties. Since this was his first time singing and playing at the same time(Which I believe is what was done since it was still more popular than multi-tracking in '66), the focus is less on the guitar and more on Eric's singing and John playing around on a piano in the background, though Eric does take a solo on it.

Another instrumental and another one of my favourites, eleventh is the James Bracken song Steppin Out. The saxophone returns to cover the spot Eric usually covers when someone's singing, as Clapton takes over with a nice tasty lead melody on here, though about halfway through he does take the saxophone's position and let John's organ playing shine for a bit, which, as a fan of organs, makes me smile.

Twelfth and last on the original release, is the Little Walter number, It Ain't Right. This one is another harmonica-centered one that features John Mayall's harmonica-ing, which again, I love since I have no idea how he plays without suffocating.

Thirteenth track on here is a bonus track that came on my disc, Lonely Years. which sounds like a demo recorded by Eric and John on harmonica, guitar and vocals in a living room. Not a bad thing, but it's noticeably lower-quality. Still, that's in no ways an issue with good music, and personally I like this little song. It also has a bit of harmony leads between Eric and John at one point, which I really like the sound of.

Another demo, the fourteenth and final track is one Eric wrote, an instrumental song called Bernard Jenkins, again just Eric and John(Though John's on piano, and not harmonica this time) in what sounds like living-room quality, but is swinging nonetheless to my ears.

So, tl;dr/overall summary; Like everyone says, Eric is playing very well here. Like everyone says he's got an ass-kicking tone. And like everyone says this is a staple of the British Blues Boon. But at the same time I do feel it's a bit overhyped. People treated it like the work of gods, and while it certainly is excellent, it's not quite that good. Nonetheless though, if you like Eric Clapton, get it. If you like the British Blues, get it. If you like Electric Blues, get it. I can't really think of many reasons for many people here in the Blues & Jazz forum not to own a copy of this, I'd give it an 8.7/10 if I had to give it a on-a-scale-of-one-to-ten rating.

So, there you have it. Again, really sorry about taking so long with this, I meant to have it up this afternoon, but someone shot the window of the car I'm likely going to be driving mainly once I have a license, so I was occupied getting a new window today. Still though, made it in with one minute to midnight, so still just barely fine, eh? :D

JilaX^
09-02-2009, 03:56 AM
Great review, the album is a classic, that I personally love very dearly.

However, -every-. decent harmonica player is able to breathe easily, because you draw in air while doing "Draws". :p:

Stisan
09-02-2009, 03:58 AM
How dare you be only slightly early with an article nobody cares about?

Overrated and underproduced album.

JilaX^
09-02-2009, 04:46 AM
How dare you be only slightly early with an article nobody cares about?

Overrated and underproduced album.

:facepalm:

strawforest007
09-02-2009, 04:50 AM
Good review necrosis. Nice one!

carmour
09-02-2009, 06:43 AM
Another Man = Another Man Done Gone, pretty sure it's an old work song, originally recorded by Sonny boy

Historic Album regardless

meh!
09-02-2009, 09:01 AM
How dare you be only slightly early with an article nobody cares about?

Overrated and underproduced album.

Be quiet.


Thanks man, stickied!

Zeds.Ded
09-02-2009, 11:41 AM
great album, you can here a lot of its influence in some of todays modern blues players, great tracks all round

pak1351
09-02-2009, 12:52 PM
Necrosis, hell of a review. Definitely agree, great tone and great playing, but it just never spoke to me like other albums do. Nice write-up :cheers:

gabcd86
09-02-2009, 12:57 PM
Would you recommend the special edition that is out there?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bluesbreakers-Eric-Clapton-Deluxe/dp/B002JFT1BI/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1251910576&sr=8-7

The CD version, which is actually the first result on my page, but hey, is twice as much as the normal one, which is at 9.68 or something, which is a lot for a CD on my budget :(

strawforest007
09-02-2009, 01:33 PM
Would you recommend the special edition that is out there?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bluesbreakers-Eric-Clapton-Deluxe/dp/B002JFT1BI/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&s=dmusic&qid=1251910576&sr=8-7

The CD version, which is actually the first result on my page, but hey, is twice as much as the normal one, which is at 9.68 or something, which is a lot for a CD on my budget :(

I personally wouldn't recommend it unless you're a die-hard fan and/or completist. Why would you want seperate mono and stereo recordings of the same tracks?!

Best option in my opinion would be to get the original release LP if you can. I'm not a fan of much of Clapton's work but this album and some of his Cream works are certainly a 'must have'. All Your Love is just one of those deliciously perfect recordings. As for Mayall/Bluesbreakers albums I personally prefer 'A Hard Road' - I'm a sucker for Peter Green.

gabcd86
09-02-2009, 03:15 PM
Only reason I could see for that is because my amplifier's auxiliary input is in mono, so I generally lose half of the guitar, and in some cases, that makes learning the songs difficult. But for 4.50 extra? Not worth it, as you say.

It's on my list. Along with... lots. :(

Blind In 1 Ear
09-03-2009, 01:09 AM
great album. i listen and jam to it a lot. although ive always thought the best songs on the album were the ones that didnt have clapton on them. another man, parchman farm, and it aint right are probably my favorites on there. just love the grooves in those tunes.

REV3LATI0N
09-18-2009, 08:11 PM
how is this possibly overrated? Hardly anyone's heard of it outside of blues/clapton fans...And this is right up there with Cream for my favorite all-time Clapton work.

carmour
09-18-2009, 09:23 PM
how is this possibly overrated? Hardly anyone's heard of it outside of blues/clapton fans...And this is right up there with Cream for my favorite all-time Clapton work.

lol what? The Beano album is pretty famous among guitar players atleast

REV3LATI0N
09-18-2009, 09:30 PM
lol what? The Beano album is pretty famous among guitar players atleast

yes ok maybe guitarists but for the general public ask them a clapton song and they'll say layla, cocaine, or tears in heaven. Im not bashing I just dont get how an album like this can be overrated