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Blues Breakers – John Mayall with Eric Clapton (1966)

April 15, 2015

[Album 392/1001]220px-Bluesbreakers_John_Mayall_with_Eric_Clapton

“I’m the taxman.”
– The Beatles, Taxman

A fine George Harrison tune that almost described John McVie’s career.

Athough I’m sure he would have made a fine tax inspector, I’m glad McVie decided to play the bass guitar here instead.  Oh, and with another group, Fleetwood something or other, for the next several decades.

Blues Breakers is of those albums where the marquee/caps lock names may shift the units but it’s the supporting cast/fine print that makes it work.

Note that on the CD cover, vocalist John Mayall is in Capitalized Red letters.  Much like a big star in a supporting actor film role, Eric Clapton is billed as “with.”

And the two other guys.  Well at least they remembered to include the two other guys in the picture.

I think the company that produced my version of the CD could have used an employee with an auditing background like John McVie.  Check out the band listed on my copy:



I understand that with quartets, two members are often highlighted above the others (you know, like the aforementioned George Harrison & Richard Starkey with the Beatles).

In this case, I see the marketability of putting the spotlight on the lead singer & lead guitarist.

But was the rhythm section on Blues Breakers really just, “John McVie, drums on Tracks 1,2,3,6,12?!”

Perhaps I’m an odd duck but with the blues, I really enjoy listening to rhythm sections.

No exception in this case.


By all accounts, this is an influential record.

Many reviews can be found, detailing the significance of Clapton’s performance & his guitar+amp combo, with my personal favourite review of this record being courtesy of the often-immitated/never-duplicated 1537.  Incidentally, if you ever see footnotes in my reviews, I have the ‘learned sage/scholar’ 1537 to thank for the idea!

When 1537 does footnotes, they’re witty.

When the rhythm section here feels like it’s relegated to a (questionably-edited) album cover footnote, it’s not so clever.

So if the legend of early Clapton is what brings you to the album, so be it, his performance will likely meet expectations.

But stay for the under-billed rhythm section, consisting of that other guy John McVie & the other-other guy, Hughie Flint.

From → 1960s

  1. Deke permalink

    John McVie=Super Chill Bass Guy!

  2. Phillip Helbig permalink

    Who played bass?

  3. Phillip Helbig permalink

    Great album, despite the billing on the back cover. Did John McVie really play drums?

    Often known as the “Beano album”.

    At least at the time, Mayall was probably more famous than Clapton, so I think the billing is OK on the front cover.

    I saw John Mayall recently. He’s 80. Has any other rock musician (in the broadest sense of the term) performed at such an age? Some were born well before Mayall, for example Papa John Creach (on violin with Jefferson Starship in the 1970s) was born in 1917), but he was just in his late 50s when playing with Jefferson Starship.

    • Chuck Berry is 86 and still plays occasionally in St. Louis.

      Little Richard is 83 and, despite being in a wheelchair, still makes brief appearances.

      B.B. King is gonna be 90 and, despite a recent health scare, still tours when he’s up to it.

      • Phillip Helbig permalink

        OK, they have at least as much rock cred as Mayall. There are old jazzers and classic players and crooner Johannes Heesters was giving concerts at well over 100!

        John Mayall, though, will remain the only one to skip and jump off the stage at 80, though. 🙂

    • Haha rock cred? Mayall would bow to those guys.

      As for skipping, give Jagger a few more years. Whatever you may think of him (and the Stones), they’ll still be doing it then.

      • I hope I’ll still be playing music as an octogenarian!
        I’ve always been impressed with Jagger’s fitness – not a young man, but he covers a lot of distance on stage every night.
        And I think we’ve discussed Life – I did appreciate Keith’s counter-argument when people suggest the stones should retire, what else would I do? I love to play!

  4. I always liked this album. What a bunch of players, eh? Damn. I fired up the ol’ iTunes gizmo whizzbanger and am playing it as I type this. Cool bean-os!

  5. Aww shucks, thank you very much! You’ve made getting off my sick bed worthwhile.

    • My thanks to you sir for the footnote idea & all the enjoyment I’ve had reading them, get well soon!

  6. Never much enjoyed this one (though I appreciate its importance) – even as I learn to appreciate Clapton’s ‘not Cream’ output. I’ve always liked the picture on the cover, though.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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