John Mayall with Eric Clapton

John Mayall with Eric Clapton

Blues Breakers

Deram/Decca Music

It’s not too often that an album is considered so groundbreaking that the guitarist’s amplifier model is thereafter known by the name of the album on which he played it. Yet such is the mythos of Eric Clapton that the Marshall JTM-45 combo amp (you can see it in the background of Clapton’s photo on the back cover) is, to this day, called a “Bluesbreaker.”

Add to Clapton’s incendiary guitar playing the bass of John McVie (later the “Mac” of Fleetwood Mac) and the harp playing of perennial bandleader/talent scout (he also discovered Peter Greene, who later joined McVie in Fleetwod Mac) John Mayall, and Blues Breakers is an album deserving to give its name to a Marshall amp.

Even so, after all the hype, in the light of retrospection, Blues Breakers has some surprising flaws. Mayall’s voice, in particular, is weak, and his original material rather mediocre. And as talented as the individual players are, the group, as a group, sometimes sounds like a bunch of relative novices at the particular genre of the blues. Which compared to their American counterparts, who’d been playing blues their whole lives, they were.

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