John Mayall: “Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton” by Michael Wolf Ingmire

Blues artist John Mayall has been called “The Godfather of the British Blues” scene.  From the early 1960’s through his current band his groups have been the trying ground for some of the greatest guitarists in the history of the Blues. John Mayall has had an innate talent for spotting and nurturing talent. It also is a testament to his talent that many musicians in John Mayall’s groups, and not only guitarists, have gone on to join or form successful bands of their own.

The album of John Mayall that has continued to influence players of the Blues is the album “John Mayall Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton.” Eric Clapton had recently the  Pop-Blues group, The Yardbirds.  The Yardbirds desire for commercial success was at odds with Clapton’s dedication to playing the Blues. John Mayall put Eric Clapton up in his home and gave him free rein with his record collection. The many hours of listening to and practicing the Blues lead to the stellar guitar work on the “John Mayall Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton album.

The influence of this album was vast among British and American musicians. Specifically influential was Clapton’s use of a combination of a Gibson Les Paul guitar and a Marshall amplifier and the use of high volume on his amp. All of Clapton’s solos were cut live in the studio and his amplifier was recorded with a microphone set at a distance in the studio from his amp.

Eric Clapton was inspired to use the Les Paul guitar because of the influence of Texas Bluesman Freddie King’s use of this particular model guitar. The material covered on this album ranged from covers of classic Blues and R&B artists such as Otis Rush and Ray Charles.  In addition, the album also showcased fine originals penned by John Mayall.  In addition, this album marks the debut of Eric Clapton as a vocalist with his cover of Robert Johnson’s classic tune “Rambling on My Mind.” This is considered to be one of the finest John Mayall albums and is also considered to feature some of Eric Clapton’s finest playing.

Three favorite songs on the album:

1. All Your Love
2. Hideaway
3. Double Crossing time

Youtube Video Reviews

1. “All Your Love,” was written by Blues songwriter, Willie Dixon. The seminal version of this song was originally recorded by Chicago Bluesman Otis Rush. It is Rush’s version that provides the blueprint for Eric Clapton’s guitar work for the Mayall version. The main difference between the Otis Rush original and John Mayall’s is the passion and tough as nails tone of Clapton’s Les Paul. The video referenced here is from the “John Mayall Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton album.

2. “Hideaway,” comes from the catalog of early Eric Clapton influence Freddie King. The Bluesbreakers band personnel were Clapton on guitar, John Mayall on keyboards and harmonica, Hughie Flint on drums, and future Fleetwood Mac member John McVie on bass. The band provides a solid backing for Clapton’s guitar and allows him room  to make his solos shine throughout. This version is also from The Bluesbreakers album.

3. “Double Crossing Time” is a John Mayall original and features one of Eric Clapton’s finest solos on the album.

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