Friday, October 21, 2016


Back when I was in high school I had an art class with Mrs. Land, a cool lady who let students bring in records to listen to when we were painting. For whatever reason, maybe because in that class there were several of them, the surf chicks dominated record player, a standard heavy duty AV Department special, built to survive the clumsiest of AV monitors. Not that these gals were clumsy, if they were I wouldn't have noticed anyway. (What part of surf chicks didn't you get?) There were four records that they played more than others. The soundtrack to the surf movie "Five Summer Stories", which everybody had. Within the surf crowd, and the peripheral beachy non-surfers, that soundtrack would have been what Nirvana's Nevermind was in the nineties, not in sound but in ubiquitousness, at least with that small demographic. I had it (surprisingly some of it still holds up). Other LPs that got repeated plays were Van Morrison's Moondance, and the most annoying of the bunch, the self titled It's A Beautiful Day. That one snuck in there because the most annoying song on that most annoying LP, "White Bird", was in the soundtrack of a surf movie. Fuck, I don't care, I hated that song and that band and still do. Surf chicks can do no wrong? Bullshit: "White Bird".

The one LP that was was on the surf chicks playlist that was kind of surprising was John Mayall's The Turning Point, an interesting choice, one that they probably rallied around because of the flute in it, precisely what bugged me about it. All of this manic breathy flute playing where the huffing and puffing is supposed be a replacement for guitar heroics. The single benefit to hearing that was that I was exposed to John Mayall, whom I didn't hate because he wasn't the flute player.

Just a year or two later, my brother brought home the first studio LP by Mayall, Blues Breakers, released in 1966 three years prior to The Turning Point. What a mind fuck that was. Not blues as I was used to, not black blues and not even American blues. Despite having covers of songs Otis Rush, Freddy King, Ray Charles, Little Walter, Mose Allison and Robert Johnson, it was 100% British blues. You've no doubt looked at the cover above, so you already know that Eric Clapton was in the band, in this case not a bad thing. It was post Yardbirds, so he knew how to turn it up, but he wasn't quite the deity he would become with "Clapton Is God" knuckleheads. Everything on this LP is period perfect, the production, guitar tone, the solos, even with some bordering on annoyingly long (a two minute drum solo in a four minute rendition of "What I'd Say"). This LP is a milestone in British blues and I've no doubt that some of you may know it backwards and forwards. For those of you who don't, I suggest you listen to the whole thing in it's entirety. One song just isn't enough. And all twelve songs on the original LP feature something different, sometimes guitar, sometimes Mayall's Hammond chops, but most importantly, no flute.

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers - All My Loving mp3 at Internet Archive
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers - Double Crossing Time mp3 at Internet Archive
The whole LP:
John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers -Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton at Internet Archive NOTE: Under "Download options" on the right side of the page, select "VBR MP3" for individual songs, or you can just stream it. Download a torrent, if you're one of those rascals.

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