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4.7 out of 5 stars123
4.7 out of 5 stars
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It's albums like "Blues Breakers" for which the words "classic" and "timeless" were invented. Originally released by Decca Records in 1966, "The Beano" as it's sometimes known (look at the cover photo) firmly established the then 21-year-old Eric Clapton's reputation as the greatest and most innovative blues guitarist to emerge from the golden age of British R&B, a reputation he has sustained for more than 40 years.

If you are a fan of R&B, blues or rock and have never heard this album, then prepare to have your mind blown. With Clapton at the heart of this incarnation of the Blues Breakers was the great John Mayall, usually referred to as "The Father of British Blues". With John McVie on bass (who moved on to become the "Mac" of Fleetwood Mac) and Hughie Flint on drums, you have the perfect tight, energy-filled R&B line-up from the mid-sixties.

(There is a guest appearance by Dennis Healey on trumpet - not THAT Dennis Healey, surely? Anyone know for sure?)

Even after the passage of decades, these numbers sound crisp and fresh and will have you dancing round the room. I have the original vinyl album from 1966, and the CD is better. The sound is crisper and deeper, and there are two bonus tracks - "Lonely Hearts" and "Bernard Jenkins."

Clapton's guitar solo in the middle of "Key to Love" remains for me the quintessential example of the perfect 60-second solo: tight, disciplined, fast, virtuoso, clean, imaginative, pushing the main theme and, jazz-style, bringing it back to the root with perfect timing.

The music of The Blues Breakers has been endlessly imitated, covered, extended, and used as a benchmark by thousands of bands world wide for the past 44 years.

But it's never, ever been equalled.
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on 13 April 2010
I think this is the best offering from the blues scene that was prominent in England during the mid - sixties. Unlike morons such as the supposed 'Music Lover' who reviewed this on 9th April, I believe that there is no such thing as 'black' or 'white' music and such a notion is laughable. Do we say that a black violinist is stealing white music if he plays mozart? No because this would be utterly ridiculous. What's important is the musicians' skill and this album is Eric Clapton making his way into the hall of guitar legends. At times understated and melodic such as on 'Ramblin' On My Mind' but at other moments incendary such as on 'Have You Heard'.
It would also be difficult to describe this as only a blues album as it contains a number of other musical palettes: there is something of a country feel to a number of the songs; jazz elements also play a role, especially in the drumming; and the musical quotation of Day Tripper clearly marks this out as a product of the BRITISH minds that it came from.
If you want to just listen to the same chicago blues albums ad nuaseum, like 'Music Lover', don't buy this. If, however, you're not so bigotted as to think that only black people can make excellent blues music, give this a try because it is absolutely superb.

P.s. 'Music Lover' should check out Electric Mud which is Muddy Waters playing psychedelic arrangements of a number of songs (or 'white man' music as he might have it)
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on 5 December 2008
I first listened to this album when it was released during the 1960's
I was 17 years old and could not believe what I was hearing!
A truly ground breaking album that influenced most aspiring guitar players of that era.
The Bluesbreaker album features the young Eric Clapton at his best, in my opinion he has never surpassed the sublime guitar breaks on this album, he was truly inspired when this was recorded, with the great John Mayall's haunting vocals and keyboard skills, John Mcvie's bass work and Hughie Flint on drums, it is a brilliant piece of work.
If I was only allowed to own one CD, this would be it!
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on 28 August 2000
Few albums have had greater impact than John Mayall's 1966 landmark "Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton." Released by the Decca label in Britain on 22 July 1966, literally days after Clapton left the Bluesbreakers and just a week before Cream's debut, it went all the way to #6, a pretty mean feat, since Mayall's band had never had a hit single. This may have been a first in Britain.
Of course, this is the album that set the blues and guitar worlds aflame and established Eric Clapton's name worldwide as the most passionate of musical interpreters. If you haven't yet heard "Beano"--as it is affectionately known, because Clapton is pictured reading a "Beano" comic book on its cover--then you ain't heard nuthin' yet! This is the stuff of legends.
From the album's first notes, you realize that you're in guitar heaven, as "Slowhand" shows us the way electric guitar can and should be played. Clapton's virtuoso playing is white hot throughout. Playing with a maturity beyond his 21 years, the young Eric Clapton so influenced the guitar world that Gibson eventually reissued the Les Paul model--out-of-production since 1960--which Clapton then played.
John Mayall's Bluesbreakers served--and serves still today--as a finishing school for great musicians and sidemen (Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Walter Trout, Coco Montoya, John McVie, Jack Bruce, Aynsley Dunbar, Mick Fleetwood and others). Mayall's proselytizing the blues (he's 66 years old!), his songwriting skills, and his other musical talents should not be ignored nor taken lightly.
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on 31 May 2011
It's hard to remember just how brave Clapton was to leave the Yardbirds just when they had become successful and go on to throw in his lot with John Mayall's rag tag and bobtail touring band. However, courage paid off, and this album with Mayall proved to be the foundation of his (financially) incredibly successful career.

On this album Clapton contributes 5 glorious solos and 2 equally good instrumentals. They are a quantum leap above his previous work with the Yardbirds, and would have made him a legend even if he had never recorded another note. They aren't quite perfect - there's no light and shade, as Eric only does "intense" on this album. But you can't expect total maturity from a 21 year old guitarist, and there's just so much promise here.

Why then only 3 stars? Well, because these bits make up less than half the album. There is also Ramblin' on My Mind, which is at best charmingly diffident, and the rest is John Mayall. Mayall deserves recognition for many things - great band leader, coach for young musicians, expert on the blues, real professional in a job that encourages self-indulgence - but as a musician he isn't very special (top marks for the way he supports an obviously nervous Clapton on Ramblin', though). As a singer he is, well....dreadful is the word that comes to mind. So there is a lot of forgettable music here as well as the good stuff.

Many of the other reviewers have explained how revolutionary this album was, and how it opened their ears to new musical ideas. Well, me too. It changed my life. But in the nearly 50 years since I first heard it I've heard a great deal of other music of many different kinds, and a fair bit is much better than this. I still play it - but normally when a couple of beers has made me cosily nostalgic. And the promise in those solos? -who'd have thought that 12 years later he'd have been playing sentimental tosh like Wonderful Tonight, or that his personal problems would have put an end to courageous experiments and lead him to make idiotic political statements?
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on 12 May 2011
I've had this recording on vinyl since I can't remember when. Must be closing on half a century. I used to see John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers with a succession of wonderful guitarists at the Twisted Wheel Club in Manchester. The best night ever though was when Clapton made his first appearance there with the band. I can still remember the seismic impact his playing had on me. The Freddie King covers, "Hideaway" and "Stepping out" are brilliant, but what moves me most is the staggeringly good solo on "Have you heard?" Eric, for me, has never bettered this album.
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on 17 September 2015
A story. I work with another guitarist. He is into thrash and heavy metal. Some of his opinions are interesting; Hendrix was nothing special - he just turned it up loud and made noises. Anyway, I suggested to him that he try listening to a couple of tracks - Since I've Been Lovin You - Led Zep and Steppin Out from this album. He doesn't rate Jimmy Page either! Next day I asked him if he'd listened and he explained. he'd never rated Clapton as the only things he ever heard was what was played on the Absolute Radio that is on at work, Lay Down Sally, I shot The Sherriff, or Bad Love. These, let's be honest are pleasant enough, but, with the exception of Bad Love, don't show Clapton at his full powers. And anyway when this album was made he was young, hungry and wanting to prove himself.
But I can report that my work colleague announced himself suitable amazed. I then explained to him that this is the record that is the granddaddy of modern rock guitar - loud, sustained and making beautiful use of the Marshall's inbuilt tendency to overdrive and sustain (That fabulous note sustained with vibrato and volume after the first statement of the riff).
So there you have it. One song off this album persuaded one person that Clapton is as good as the hype says. I think that's a pretty good advert for it, don't you?
ps he said Since I've Been Lovin You was good too - Zeppelin might have gained a new fan!
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on 5 October 2011
I bought this album on vinyl when it first came out. I was a great fan of the Blues Breakers then and I still am. I was fortunate enough to be able to see the band live on several occasions at places like the "Cooks Ferry Inn" in Edmonton North London. Listening to tracks like "Hideaway" played by Eric Clapton when he must have been only about 22 makes you realise just how talented he was then, let alone now. If you like Blues from the 60's then this album is a must.
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on 20 July 2011
Then it was a complete revelation, especially for those of us whose only experience of the blues was limited to a few British white kids and Chuck Berry. Now, for today's generation perhaps not as stunning. Whatever else it may be it will always be a milestone and should be in every rock and blues collection. After all, it was this type of record that the Brits re-exported back to the USA where their white kids suddenly realised what they had in their back yard!
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on 16 July 2014
Bought to supplement my vinyl copy and comes with complete versions in Mono and Stereo. The content needs no comment unless you happy to be someone who has never come across this masterpiece before. In which case you are in for some audio nirvana as Clapton has never sounded so good as on this album and John Mayall is also at his breathless best chugging away on his Hammond or whatever and blowing the harp for all his worth. A classic and timeless album.
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