We’re about to embark on a tough challenge: deciding the best blues rock album of all time. We scoured our lists of favorites, compared hits, got in long conversations (read: lively debates), and we’ve come to a conclusion.
Are you ready? Here we go!
Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton (1966)
We don’t know if you’re nodding in agreement or shaking your head in disbelief. But let us give you the reasons we think it’s the best blues album of all time.
1. John Mayall and Eric Clapton together
We’re tempted to say “enough said.” But in case you don’t get what we mean, we’ll elaborate.
Did you know that for a period, people wrote “Clapton is God” on walls in London? His revolutionary, care-free guitar playing style propelled him to the ranks of one of the best British musicians. He took his God-like playing seriously on this album to every fan’s delight.
As for John Mayall, he already had an established reputation in the British blues scene with his band John Mayall and The Bluesbreakers. The band performed at the Marquee Club and received a warm success, notably with their songs “Mr. James” and “Crawling Up A Hill”.
Many times when great musicians collaborate, things don’t go as planned. But The Bluesbreakers and Eric Clapton were a match made in heaven.
As the album producer, Mike Vernon, said, “the energy created by the band and Clapton is amazing, and the chemistry is simply right.” The result is a raw, powerful album to raise heartbeats and drop jaws – even after 30 something years.
2. A signature style that would change the British blues rock
Eric Clapton is a guitarist known for his power during live concerts. When he first stepped into the recording studio with the Bluesbreakers, he refused to take it down a notch.
But this event changed the face of British blues rock forever. Clapton’s high-pitch guitar opening for “All Your Love” was such an inspiring novelty. It influenced the rise of the guitar’s key role in all blues albums in Britain.
Guitar solo performance also became as important as it is today after the album. What’s more, it was the debut for the popular sound of Gibson Les Paul guitars (what Clapton used) that blasted through overdriven Marshall amplifiers.
3. Hits to transcend generations
From “All Your Love” to “It Ain’t Right”, fans could only agree that the tracks are phenomenal. The album curated favorite hits from some of the best songwriters such as Otis Rush, Freddie King (“Hideaway”), and Ray Charles (“What I’d Say”).
Mayall wrote five out of twelve songs on the album: “Little Girl”, “Another Man”, “Double Crossing Time” (with Clapton), “Key to Love”, and “Have You Heard”.
Clapton’s guitar solo combined with Mayall’s vocal and harmonica playing make the songs memorable staples of each musician’s career.
What also makes this album great is Clapton’s singing debut in “Ramblin’ on My Mind”. Many were surprised by the contrast of Clapton’s soft voice with his powerful guitar playing.
Our intention is not to say there’s no other album worthy to take the throne. As blues rock fans, there are many records we find inspiring: Led Zeppelin II, The Jimmy Hendrix Experience, Fresh Cream, and the list goes on.
Deciding which one is the best among them all is a quasi-impossible task. If you ask us next month, our answer would probably be different!
What do you think? Do you agree? Which album is the best for you? Tell us in a comment below!