The Ron Kane Files

Writing About Music

Thursday, July 26, 2007

John Mayall / Eric Clapton

Last album listened to?

JOHN MAYALL – Blues Breakers – John Mayall with Eric Clapton (London US CD 800086.2 (recorded, released 1966, this CD is from the 80’s)

Why that one?

I was loaned the book “Strange Brew – Eric Clapton & the British Blues Boom 1965 – 1970” by Christopher Hjort – I read the first 70 pages in one sitting.

What did you think?

I didn’t hear this album until after Cream broke up. I didn’t even hear it on the radio – in fact, I believe the first John Mayall record I ever actually heard (and identified) was “The Turning Point” (which I still love – and I see that a re-mastered CD with bonus tracks has been issued – must go out and get a copy!). Eventually, it transpires that no self-respecting Cream fan can be without this John Mayall LP. But by the time I actually hear it, a lot of water has passed under the bridge. In 2007, the single most interesting thing for me on this album is the appearance of British jazzers:

Johnny Almond (on baritone sax)

Alan Skidmore (on tenor sax) and

Dennis Healy (on trumpet)!

Thus far, my favorite story in the book I’m reading is about how Clapton angered and confused the studio engineers by wanting to have them record him with his ‘set up’ at full volume: “No, I can’t, because if I turn it down, the sound changes. And I can’t get the sustain I want.” OK, sound pretty good, Eric – “All Your Love” has that ‘classic Clapton’ “riff” in it – is this the first non-jazz ‘power riff’? This album proves British Decca wasn’t clueless – well, this, and “Aftermath” by The Rolling Stones.

I like that Eric is ‘reading’ Beano #1242 (May, 1966) – I wonder what that issue goes for on eBay these days?

So, much love to John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker – all still alive as of this writing. Let’s not forget John McVie (bass) and Hughie Flint (drums), folks. Usually, when trying to think of the “ultimate” set of British rock music, I start with Joe Meek around 1960, then you get The Beatles…and The Rolling Stones, Graham Bond ORGANization, Manfred Mann, The Who – but we mustn’t dismiss John Mayall as being ‘merely blues’ – “Blues Breakers – John Mayall with Eric Clapton” is the sound of electric British rock music really staking it’s claim. For me, it’s what the Japanese might call “Pre-70’s” – the sound of things to come. What a hot guitar sound!

Tonight will likely see me playing “Fresh Cream” and perhaps a bootleg CD or two of Cream playing live in England in 1966. I wonder how much more of that book I will get through tonight?


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