VARIOUS ARTISTS – ” Whats Shakin ” Released June 1966

Posted: May 2, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
Tags: , , , , , ,

What’s Shakin is a compilation album released by Elektra Records in June 1966. It features the earliest studio recordings by the Lovin’ Spoonful and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, as well as the only released recordings by the ad hoc studio super-group Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse, until they were reissued years later.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, Elektra was one of the best-known American folk music record labels. However, by 1964–1965, it decided to test the waters with unknown electric, rock-oriented artists. Among the first such groups signed were the Paul Butterfield Blues Band from Chicago and Arthur Lee’s Love from Los Angeles. Elektra wanted the Lovin’ Spoonful and recorded several songs by the group, however they were signed to Kama Sutra Records.

Elektra Records had released several successful “sampler” compilation albums, including The Blues Project in 1964 and Folksong ’65. Some suggest What’s Shakin started as The Electric Blues Project, a follow-up to the 1964 compilation;  however, Elektra founder Jac Holzman has stated “it was simply unreleased material that was available to us”.

Shortly after signing with Elektra, Paul Butterfield and band recorded an album’s worth of songs which producer Paul A. Rothchild felt did not live up to the band’s potential. Five of these tracks were chosen for What’s Shakin’ . Four songs, representing the earliest recordings by the Lovin’ Spoonful, as well as one song each by Al Kooper and Tom Rush, were also included.

The only songs recorded specifically for the album were by a studio group dubbed Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse. Joe Boyd, who had been sent to London to open a field office for Elektra, was tasked with finding a suitable band for his first assignment.  Boyd approached Manfred Mann singer Paul Jones and suggested that they put one together. Jones, who played harmonica and sang harmony, brought Manfred Mann bandmate Jack Bruce on bass, Steve Winwood on vocals and Peter York on drums (both from the Spencer Davis Group), Eric Clapton on guitar (from John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers), and Ben Palmer, a blues pianist friend of Jones and Clapton. Ginger Baker was suggested as the drummer, but he declined or was unavailable. The recording sessions took place in March 1966. Bruce later commented, “There were no thoughts of making a band at that time, but it probably helped to make the Cream thing happen.”  By June, he, Baker, and Clapton began rehearsing and became Cream .

our songs were recorded by the Powerhouse. Jones chose “I Want to Know” (his own composition, although credited to his wife, Sheila MacLeod) and Winwood selected “Steppin’ Out”. According to Boyd, Clapton wanted to record Albert King’s “Crosscut Saw”, but Boyd suggested “Standing at the Crossroads” (a version of Robert Johnson’s “Cross Road Blues” recorded by Elmore James); Clapton then suggested Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues”. Finally, a new arrangement of “Crossroads” was recorded using lyrics from both of the Johnson songs. A fourth song, described as a slow blues, was also recorded, but remains unreleased.

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