John Mayall
Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton



by Bron-Yr-Aur USER (39 Reviews)
May 19th, 2006 | 28 replies

Release Date: 1966 | Tracklist

By the time the Yardbirds released their pop hit "For Your Love", not many were in a position to bring them down in anyway."God", however, had other plans. It is a widely known story among blues enthusiasts and aging hippies; Clapton joins the Yardbirds, becomes the guitar deity of the sixties, only to take an exit due to the poppier winds that were carrying the Yardbirds to a more commercial destination. The Yardbirds recovered by way of Jeff Beck, whilst Clapton moved on to lend his magic hands to blues purist John Mayall, a man more famous for his abundance of guitar heroes (think Ozzy) than for his own merits. However, to state that Mr. Mayall isn't talented in his own right would be pure fiction, as made clear by the album 'Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton'.

The year is now 1966, and while The Beatles are manipulating tapes and dropping acid, John Mayall and company are finishing up the album that would forever cement them into the fabric of everything sixties, as well as in the minds of every kid with a Muddy Waters record and an electric guitar. With such virtuoso covers as "What'd I Say" and "Ramblin' On My Mind", the Bluesbreakers not only asserted themselves as the cream of the blues crop in England, but also made the still pop-infested Yanks across the pond take notice of the style of music they had so unwittingly spawned. The stunning, three minute long instrumental "Hideaway" only displays Claptons' undeniable genius as a lead guitarist, but also shows off the rather unknown and ever rotating rythym section as a force to be reckoned with in it's own right.

But what of the man himself? It is arguable Mayalls' voice has never been better than on this classic record, and showcases some talent in the rythym guitar and harmonica department, as well. By the time "Parchman Farm" has finished it's 2:24 second run, it's somewhat more apparent why Clapton got second billing. Hughie Flint (Drums) is likewise in top form, not merely banging around in a frenzy of self-indulgence, but subtley and tastefully providing the tunes with the beat they deserve (The exception being the drum solo in "What'd I Say"), with John McVie (Bass) thumping along, creating his own spotlight at times, and slipping into obscurity at others.

And yet, that's partially what makes this record as unique as it is. No one is trying to promote themselves over the group, as would become the fashion in the latter half of the decade and on throughout the Seventies, but complementing each other, and displaying the passion required to perform a piece of blues music and not sound like a wanker, which in Claptons' case says a bit more than for anyone else, considering Cream was less than a year away from becoming a reality.

Like many classic albums of the sixties, this one does not skip through it's length unscathed, providing a weak song or two such as "Lonely Years", which is essentially a rythym guitar, a screeching harmonica, and Johns' distinctive voice, all intertwined in rather poor sound quality; as well as the waltzy, nearly six minute long saxophone driven number entitled "Have You Heard". While the former is relatively quick, sitting through "Have You Heard" can be a daunting task in it's own right; on par with climbing Everest after a pint or two of Jagermeister.

The music itself varies quite substantially throughout the album, with mournful songs driven more by harmonica ("Another Man"), to the guitar fury that Clapton is so well known for on songs like "Little Girl" and "Steppin' Out". The album flows remarkably well, seguing from one tune to the next in a Michelle Kwan-type fashion. Naturally, while everybody delivers a solid performance, it's Clapton who shines on this record, and it;s Clapton who would reap the most from it. It was after this album that the infamous "Clapton Is God" graffiti started mysteriously popping up all over London. It is also worth mentioning the striking similarities between the guitar riff following the drum solo in "What'd I Say" and the main riff in The Beatles "Day Tripper".

Even with a few lesser tracks, the album and the sound of it are blues at it's finest, with lovely guitar grooves and fantastic piano playing, too.
The bulk of the album maintains the quality one would expect from a record credited with launching the career of one of the most renown bluesman to ever live , and while it's reputation may precede it in some ways, it's legacy gargantuan, it's impact undeniable, this is undoubtedly one of the shining acheivements of the counter-culture, and a reference point for every guiatarist to ever bang out a I-V-IV chord progression.


Fantastic, tasteful playing by everyone.
Superb covers of classic songs.
Helped launch the blues revival.


Alot of covers take away from artists' own originality.
Some songs falter compared to the others.


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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 19th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I fear this is far too short.

Staff Reviewer
May 19th 2006


You only touch on the music for two or three paragraphs. Lots of background and stuff, but meh, overall not a great review. I

May 19th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I bulked it up a bit more, perhaps more is needed?

May 19th 2006


I've been looking to get this for a while, heard nothing but good things. I love the time period, mid sixties with Clapton's straight up guitar heroics, right before he got into all the psychedelia. I gotta check this out.

May 19th 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

I love this album, it's a total classic.

May 20th 2006


This is good. I enjoy it much more than anything else Clapton has done.

May 20th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I enjoy Clapton up until Derek and the Dominoes.

May 20th 2006


Sounds interesting. I love the Yardbirds, but never got around to checking this band out. I'll have to pick this up. Nice review.

May 20th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Why thank you.

John Paul Harrison
May 21st 2006


Album Rating: 4.5

Whoa. Quite a nice little review you have heare. I'd agree with nearly everything you say here...

..except the rating. I must say, this is a fiver if i've ever seen one. But hey, what does John Paul know?

May 21st 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

Not alot apparently. Ha. I don't think it's a fiver simply for the aforementioned "Have You Heard" and for the poor sound quality on "Lonely Years". The rest is magnificent.

I'm planning on doing a monster review of my Bob Dylan compilation album to counter your masterpiece review of 'Then and Now'. This Message Edited On 05.21.06

June 28th 2006


John McVie is the greatest ever.

July 2nd 2006


Album Rating: 5.0

This is an essential album for anyone who likes electric blues.

November 5th 2006


Does this sound anything like the stuff clapton did with cream?

January 2nd 2007


Album Rating: 4.0

This album is incredible, probably my favourite blues album from the sixties, which is saying something (although I can't remember when The Paul Butterfield Bluesband released their debut. Actually, doesn't matter, this is better).

April 22nd 2008


Steve Hackett called this the "Bible of electric guitar blues playing." Clapton, as of late, has been steeped in banality. If you want the "true" power of his blues guitar, then this is the one to pick up. And his work with Cream is of legend. Comparing Mayall to Ozzy in any way is ludicrous.

November 30th 2011


Album Rating: 4.0

it's a great album but i prefer some of john's early solo releases; i'm gonna add them here soon

December 12th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

This jams hard.

December 12th 2011


Eric Clapton was such an amazing guitarist

December 12th 2011


Album Rating: 5.0

Yah, he doesn't quite get the recognition he used to. That being said he has gotten more than enough to carry him through the rest of his life.

Digging: Free - Fire and Water

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