Posts Tagged ‘Eric Clapton’

The Super Deluxe 50th anniversary edition of The Beatles, a.k.a. “The White Album”, is a deep behind-the-scenes look at how that 30-song, double-album masterpiece came to be. It’s been a trope since the album’s U.K. release, on November. 22nd 1968, that the White Album—so nicknamed because its cover was all-white, save for a stamped serial number on each LP produced in the early pressings—was the sound of The Beatles dissolving. That’s true to a great extent—many of its tracks are the work of a sole Beatle or partial-group performances.

The Beatles”, also known as “The White Album“, was the ninth studio album by the band, released on 22nd November 1968. It was a double album, its plain white sleeve has no graphics or text other than the band’s name embossed, which was intended as a direct contrast to the vivid cover artwork of the band’s earlier Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Although no singles were issued from The Beatles in Britain and the United States, the songs “Hey Jude” and “Revolution” originated from the same recording sessions and were issued on a single in August 1968.

Paul when asked about the 50th anniversary package” of the 1968 double album and responded by saying it’s really good.” He went on to say that “The album itself is very cool and it sounds like you’re in the room; that’s the great thing about doing remasters. But we’ve also got some demos of the songs, so you get things stripped right back to just John’s voice and a guitar. You just think, how fucking good was John?! Amazing. We were just doing it; it was amazing. We were having a good time.”

All The other tracks, and much of what we can now hear on Super Deluxe commemorative edition, display a quartet that still enjoys making music together—and takes the group quite seriously (some songs required dozens of takes in the studio until the band was happy with one). At the same time they were maturing, they were preparing to leave behind the phenomenon that was the Beatles.

The history has been meticulously documented: the arrival of Yoko Ono into John Lennon’s world: the group’s time together at the Indian meditation compound of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, where several of the White Album’s songs were written; Ringo Starr’s decision (short-lived) to walk out on the group. It’s all spelled out in vivid detail in the comprehensive, lavishly illustrated hardcover book that houses the CDs that comprise the Super Deluxe Edition.

Housed in its legendary plain white, subtly embossed sleeve,  came out in November 1968. It arrived at a time when both the group and the world had changed irrevocably: the former since their first forays into fame and fortune, the latter scarred by the ongoing war in Vietnam and the assassination of Martin Luther King, to touch upon the tip of the iceberg.

The music on the original White Album is, like all of the Beatles’ output, the product of a very specific time; the new anniversary releases (also available in abbreviated standard and deluxe editions) aim to put it into context. In addition to the music of the original album, newly mixed by producer Giles Martin (the son of original Beatles producer George Martin) and Sam Okell in stereo and 5.1 surround sound, the Super Deluxe includes the 27 so-called “Esher Demos”: early, stripped-down working versions of songs that would appear on the album plus others that would find their way to other projects (including Abbey Road and solo albums). It also includes 50 session recordings of in-progress and outtakes galore. They are, to be sure, a revelation.

The Super Deluxe, like the similar treatment afforded Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely hearts Club Band in 2017, is nothing less than fascinating; even fans who have owned the bootleg releases containing much of this music will savoir the enhanced audio and newly discovered tracks that populate the six discs. There are in-studio jams, rehearsals, instrumental backing tracks, drastically different and unfinished lyrics and so much more.

For all of the excitement and revelation generated by the expanded releases though, in the end there remains—to paraphrase from the landmark they released the previous year—the album we’ve known for all these years.

From the inside looking out, maybe everything wasn’t going to be alright, despite John Lennon’s assurances on the rousing “Revolution 1″, just one of many highlights on what is perhaps The Beatles’ most ambitious studio album.

After writing dozens of songs while meditating in India in the spring, the group returned to Abbey Road and Trident, in Soho – to record over 30 tracks of new material up until the summer. During these sessions, arguments broke out among the foursome over creative differences. Another divisive element was the constant presence of John Lennon’s new partner, Yoko Ono, whose attendance at the sessions broke with the Beatles‘ policy regarding wives and girlfriends. After a series of problems, including producer George Martin taking a sudden leave of absence and engineer Geoff Emerick quitting, Ringo Starr left the band briefly in August. The same tensions continued throughout the following year, leading to the eventual break-up of the band in April 1970.

When you think of how unrest had started to simmer within the group’s ranks – Yoko Ono arriving in the studio; Apple forming; Ringo leaving and then returning – and how broad the album’s palette of sounds (blue beat, heavy metal, folk and doo-wop, to name a few), The Beatles still manages to hang together like few other works.

The John Lennon and Paul McCartney stereotypes are at once reinforced, yet also dismissed – few would have thought Good Night was the product of Lennon’s pen, and likewise “Helter Skelter” didn’t immediately scream McCartney. Away from such showpieces, it’s the doodles that delight – George Harrison’s “Savoy Truffle” is a fine counterweight to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, and “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except For Me and My Monkey” balances the gravitas of “Revolution 1”.

Given that it also contains Lennon, Ono and Harrison’s nine-minute noise collage “Revolution No 9″ and McCartney’s genuinely pointless “Wild Honey Pie”, it’s little wonder that producer George Martin always opined that The Beatles could have made a splendid single album. That said, without such variety on offer, the compiling of one’s own version wouldn’t be the national pastime it is today.

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Side one

Back in the U.S.S.R.

One of many songs on the album written (this one by Paul) during the Beatles stay in Rishikesh, India, to study Transcendental Meditation with the Maharishi, the Beach Boys tribute/parody was recorded without Ringo, who had temporarily left the group due to what he said was criticism of his drumming. The song includes a mention of the Hoagy Carmichael composition “Georgia on My Mind,” included by Paul because the nation of Georgia was part of the Soviet Union at the time. Minutiae: The airplane sound effects are different on the mono and stereo versions.

Paul McCartney wrote “Back in the U.S.S.R.” as a surreal parody of Chuck Berry’s song “Back in the U.S.A.” field recording of a jet aeroplane taking off and landing was used at the start of the track, and intermittently throughout it, while the backing vocals were sung by Lennon and Harrison in the style of the Beach Boys at the request of Mike Love, who had accompanied the group to India. The track became widely bootlegged in the Soviet Union and became an underground hit.

Dear Prudence

Prudence Farrow, sister of actress Mia Farrow, was one of the Westerners meditating in India with the Maharishi the same time the Beatles were there. She was being reclusive, and John wrote the song to try to convince her to “come out and play. “Dear Prudence” was one of the songs recorded at Trident. The style is typical of the acoustic songs written in Rishikesh, using guitar arpeggios. Lennon wrote the track about Mia Farrow’s sister Prudence Farrow, who rarely left her room during the stay in commitment to the meditation.

The song was recorded sans Ringo, who was into his brief departure from the band. Sean Lennon later covered the track, as did Jerry Garcia, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Leslie West, Alanis Morissette and others.

Glass Onion

John refers to five other Beatles tunes in his lyrics: “I Am the Walrus,” “The Fool on the Hill,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Fixing a Hole” and “Lady Madonna.” John later said that his line “The walrus was Paul” was a joke. Glass Onion was also a name suggested by Lennon for a new band originally called the Iveys that signed to the Beatles’ Apple label. They chose Badfinger instead.

“Glass Onion” was the first backing track recorded as a full band since Starr’s brief departure. MacDonald claimed Lennon deliberately wrote the lyrics to mock fans who claimed to find “hidden messages” in songs, and referenced other songs in the Beatles catalogue – “The Walrus was Paul” refers back to “I Am the Walrus” (which itself refers to “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”). McCartney, in turn, overdubbed a recorder part after the line “I told you about the Fool on the Hill”, as a deliberate parody of the earlier song.A string section was added to the track in October.

Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da

The title comes from an expression Paul heard spoken by Nigerian conga player Jimmy Scott-Emuakpor: “Ob-la-di, ob-la-da, life goes on, brah.” John reportedly hated the song and some fans must agree because it’s been named among the worst songs ever in several music polls. Nonetheless, the song, which took on a Jamaican ska-influenced rhythm after much studio experimentation with the tempo, was released as a single in some countries and topped the charts in Japan, Australia and a few others. That conga player, by the way, later tried to sue the Beatles for royalties—he did not prevail.

Lennon went straight to the piano and smashed the keys with an almighty amount of volume, twice the speed of how they’d done it before, and said “This is it! Come on!”
Recording engineer Richard Lush on the final take of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”.  Written by McCartney as a pastiche of ska music. The track took a surprising amount of time to complete, with McCartney demanding perfectionism that annoyed his colleagues. Jimmy Scott, a friend of McCartney, suggested the title and played bongos on the initial take. He demanded a cut of publishing when the song was released, but the song was credited to “Lennon-McCartney”. After working for three days on the backing track, the work was scrapped and replaced with a new recording. Lennon hated the song, calling it “granny music shit”,while engineer Richard Lush recalled that Starr disliked having to record the same backing track repetitively, and pinpoints this session as a key indication that the Beatles were going to break up McCartney attempted to remake the backing track for a third time, but this was abandoned after a few takes and the second version was used as the final mix. The group, save for McCartney, had lost interest in the track by the end of recording, and refused to release it as a single. British pop group Marmalade recorded a version that became a number one hit. In 2004, an online survey of 1,000 people in the UK by Mars ranked the song as the worst ever.

Wild Honey Pie

The recording lasts less than a minute and feels like something tossed off in the studio, which it basically was: Paul wrote it and is the only performer on the track, contributing all of the vocals and instruments. Most of what you hear in the background is a harpsichord.

McCartney recorded “Wild Honey Pie” on 20th August at the end of the session for “Mother Nature’s Son”. It is typical of the brief snippets of songs he recorded between takes during the album sessions.

The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill

Another Lennon composition stemming from the Rishikesh visit, this one was inspired by John’s scorn for Richard Cooke III, a wealthy American college student who was present at the Maharishi’s ashram and went out on a tiger-hunting caravan. The little flamenco guitar line heard at the song’s start was actually played on a Mellotron by studio engineer Chris Thomas.

“The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill” was written by Lennon after an American visitor to Rishikesh left for a few weeks to hunt tigers. It was recorded as an audio vérité exercise, featuring vocal performances from almost everyone who happened to be in the studio at the time. Ono sings one line and co-sings another, while Chris Thomas played the mellotron, including improvisations at the end of the track. The opening flamenco guitar flourish was a recording included in the Mellotron’s standard tape library.

While My Guitar Gently Weeps

No big secret that the lead guitar, uncredited on the album, was played by George’s friend Eric Clapton. Harrison wrote the song after returning from India and recorded an acoustic demo. The other Beatles were not all that impressed with it at first, perhaps because the lyrics partially reflect the disharmony that was brewing with the group. Upon the album’s release, and ever since, the track—one of four by Harrison on the White Album—became one of the band’s most popular.

“While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was written by Harrison during a visit he made to his parents’ home in Cheshire. He first recorded the song as a solo performance, on acoustic guitar, on 25th July – a version that remained unreleased until Anthology 3. He was unhappy with the group’s first attempt to record the track, and so invited his friend Eric Clapton to come and play on it. Clapton was unsure about guesting on a Beatles record, but Harrison said the decision was “nothing to do with them. It’s my song.” Clapton’s solo was treated with automatic double tracking to attain the desired effect; he gave Harrison the guitar he used, which Harrison later named “Lucy”.

Happiness is a Warm Gun

“Happiness Is a Warm Gun” evolved out of song fragments that Lennon wrote in Rishikesh. According to MacDonald, this working method was inspired by the Incredible String Band’s song writing. The basic backing track ran to 95 takes, due to the irregular time signatures and variations in style throughout the song. The final version consisted of the best half of two takes edited together. Lennon later described the song as one of his favourites, while the rest of the band found the recording rejuvenating, as it forced them to re-hone their skills as a group playing together to get it right. Apple’s press officer Derek Taylor made an uncredited contribution to the song’s lyrics.

Considering how we lost John, it’s chilling to think that he wrote this song after seeing the title on the cover of a gun magazine. (What might be even more stunning is that the gun magazine was playing off the Peanuts cartoon’s phrase, “Happiness is a Warm Puppy.”) The track is one of few on the album that features the traditional Beatles configuration of John and George on guitars, Paul on bass and Ringo on drums, without any additional instrumentation or outside help.

Side two

Martha My Dear

It was written by Paul for his Old English Sheepdog, Martha, although some accounts have McCartney’s ex-girlfriend Jane Asher being the real inspiration (the lyric “You have always been my inspiration” was said to be the giveaway). John and Ringo do not appear on the recording.

The entire track is played by him backed with session musicians, and features no other Beatles. Martin composed a brass band arrangement for the track.

I’m So Tired

John missed Yoko Ono terribly while he was in India for the meditation retreat, and wrote this ballad while unable to sleep. The nonsensical mumbling at the beginning of the track is actually John saying, “”Monsieur, monsieur, how about another one?” Some fans, however, misheard it as a masked reference to Paul being dead, fueling a rumor that McCartney had died and been replaced by a look-alike/sound-alike.

“I’m So Tired” was written in India when Lennon was having difficulty sleeping. It was recorded at the same session as “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”.The lyrics make reference to Walter Raleigh, calling him a “stupid git” for introducing tobacco to Europe, while the track ends with Lennon mumbling “Monsieur, monsieur, how about another one?”. This became part of the Paul is Dead conspiracy theory, when fans claimed that when the track was reversed, they could hear “Paul is dead man, miss him miss him”.

Blackbird

Paul wrote and recorded this solo after hearing a blackbird while in India. But he has long said that it actually refers to the Civil Rights movement in America at the time. The recording consists entirely of Paul’s acoustic guitar, double-tracked vocal and foot-tapping, as well as the sound of a blackbird singing. McCartney has performed the song during every tour he’s done since going solo. Among the many cover versions is a beautiful harmony-rich take by Crosby, Stills and Nash.

“Blackbird” features McCartney solo, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar. According to Lewisohn, the ticking in the background is a metronome, although Emerick recalls capturing the sound via a microphone placed beside McCartney’s shoes. The birdsong on the track was taken from the Abbey Road sound effects collection, and was recorded on one of the first EMI portable tape recorders.

Piggies

One of the four George Harrison-penned numbers on the album, “Piggies” was meant as social commentary—the word pig, at the time, referred to both a police officer and any “Establishment” type who was deemed to be greedy or ultra-conservative. Many found the song somewhat humorous, but one person who did not was Charles Manson, the California-based cult leader who believed the Beatles were speaking directly to him. Manson interpreted the song’s lyrics as a call for him to start a race war. When his followers committed their notorious murders, they wrote the word pig in their victims’ blood on the walls.

Harrison wrote “Piggies” as an attack on greed and materialism in modern society. His mother and Lennon helped him complete the lyrics. Thomas played harpsichord on the track, while Lennon supplied a tape loop of pigs grunting. The harpsichord was left in one of the studios at EMI after a classical session and Harrison decided to incorporate it into his song.

Rocky Raccoon

Paul’s attempt to write a cowboy song about a near-fatal love triangle began at the Rishikesh ashram. The piano on the recording was played by producer George Martin. Donovan, also present at the ashram, is said to have had some part in writing the song but was not credited.

“Rocky Raccoon” evolved from a jam session with McCartney, Lennon and Donovan in Rishikesh. The song was taped in a single session, and was one of the tracks that Martin felt was “filler” and only put on because the album was a double.

Don’t Pass Me By

This was Ringo’s first solo composition for a Beatles album but it was not new when he cut it with the group in 1968. In fact, “Don’t Pass Me By” dates all the way back to 1962, to shortly after the time he joined the band. The lyrics certainly underwent some changes over the years though, and the bizarre line “I’m sorry that I doubted you, I was so unfair, you were in a car crash and you lost your hair” was later cited as another clue by the conspiracy theorists who spread the “Paul is Dead” rumour, as McCartney had supposedly died in a car crash. Ringo and Paul are the only Beatles on the track—the wild violin solo was contributed by Jack Fallon, a British jazz musician.

“Don’t Pass Me By” was Ringo Starr’s first solo composition for the band,  he had been toying with the idea of writing a self-reflective song for some time, possibly as far back as 1963. It went by the working titles of “Ringo’s Tune” and “This Is Some Friendly”. The basic track consisted of Starr drumming while McCartney played piano.  Martin composed an orchestral introduction to the song but it was rejected as being “too bizarre” and left off the album.

Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?

Less than two minutes long, it was written by Paul after he witnessed two monkeys having sex in the open in India. Other than Paul, Ringo is the only musician on the track. “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” was written by McCartney in India after he saw two monkeys copulating in the street and wondered why humans were too civilised to do the same. He played all the instruments except drums, which were contributed by Starr. The simple lyric was very much in Lennon’s style, and Lennon was annoyed about not being asked to play on it. McCartney suggested it was “tit for tat” as he had not contributed to “Revolution No 9”.

I Will

There is no bass on this tune—Paul (who wrote it) supplies “vocal bass” instead. There is also no George Harrison on this all-acoustic song: Paul plays nearly everything except for some percussion from Ringo and John. Despite its simplicity, the Beatles did 67 takes of the song. During take 19, Paul improvised a bit that’s come to be known as “Can You Take Me Back?,” half a minute of which was later excised and included on the album between “Cry Baby Cry” and “Revolution 9.” (You can hear the full tune now on the Super Deluxe White Album.) “I Will” has been covered by everyone from Diana Ross to Phish to Art Garfunkel.

“I Will” was written and sung by McCartney, with Lennon and Starr accompanying on percussion. In between numerous takes, the three Beatles broke off to busk some other songs. While recordings of Cilla Black’s hit “Step Inside Love” and a joke number, “Los Paranoias”, were released on Anthology 3.

Julia

John is the only person who appears on the song, which was written about his late mother while the Beatles were in India. John employs a finger-picking acoustic guitar style he learned from singer Donovan. The phrase “ocean child” in the lyrics was, however, a nod to Yoko Ono, whose Japanese last name translates to Ocean Child. The opening line is taken directly from the poem “Sand and Foam” by Kahlil Gibran, which reads (in the original version), “Half of what I say is meaningless, but I say it so that the other half may reach you.”

“Julia” was the last track to be recorded for the album and features Lennon on solo acoustic guitar which he played in a style similar to McCartney’s on “Blackbird”. This is the only Beatles song on which Lennon performs alone and it was a tribute to his mother Julia Lennon, who was killed in 1958 in a road accident while Lennon was only seventeen, and the lyrics deal with the loss of his mother and his relationship with Ono, the “ocean child” referred to in the lyrics. Ono helped with the lyrics, but the song was still credited to Lennon-McCartney as expected.

Side three

Birthday

One of the rare instances of a song truly co-written by Lennon and McCartney (although mostly by Paul) in the latter Beatles years, “Birthday” was composed in Abbey Road Studios.

According to McCartney, the authorship of “Birthday” was “50–50 John and me, made up on the spot and recorded all on the same evening”. He and Lennon were inspired to write the song after seeing the first UK showing of the rock’n’roll film The Girl Can’t Help It on television, and sang the lead vocal in the style of the film’s musical star, Little Richard. After the Beatles had taped the track, Ono and Pattie Harrison added backing vocals.

Yer Blues

Another one from the India stay, it was written solely by John, who also sings the lead vocal. A basic blues progression, given a deliberate hard edge by John, it was recorded by the four Beatles in their original, basic guitar-bass-drums format sans additional instrumentation or personnel. John performed the song on the Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus concert with Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and the Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell“Yer Blues” was originally written by Lennon in India. Despite meditating and the tranquil atmosphere, he still felt unhappy, which was reflected in the lyrics. The style was influenced by the British Blues Boom of 1968, which included groups such as Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack. The backing track was recorded in a small room next to the Studio 2 control room at Abbey Road. Unusually for a Beatles recording, the four-track source tape was edited directly, resulting in an abrupt cut-off at 3’17” into the start of another take (which ran into the fade out).

“Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” and “Sexy Sadie” were both written in reference to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Mother Nature’s Son

Paul is the only Beatle on this acoustic beauty, with a brass arrangement by George Martin. The bongos-like sound was achieved by Paul playing timpani and bass drum at the far end of the studio so that the microphone dulled the sound. Among the cover versions: Harry Nilsson, Sheryl Crow, John Denver and jazz artists Ramsey Lewis and Brad Mehldau (separately).  McCartney wrote “Mother Nature’s Son” in India, and worked on it in isolation from the other members of the band. He performed the track solo alongside a Martin-scored brass arrangement.

Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey

One of the more raucous songs on the album, John wrote it (as he did so many songs) about Yoko. Some have commented that the song was about heroin, which the couple admitted using, but Lennon denied that. “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” evolved from a jam session, and was originally untitled. The final mix was sped up by mixing the tape running at 43 hertz instead of the usual 50. Harrison claimed the title came from one of the Maharishi’s sayings (with “and my monkey” added later).

Sexy Sadie

John’s song was a thinly veiled critique of the Maharishi, with whom Lennon had become disillusioned. In fact, an original draft of John’s lyrics was filed with all sorts of obscenities directed at the guru. One of the surviving original lines, “What have you done?/You made a fool of everyone,” was inspired by a verse in a song by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. “Sexy Sadie” was written as “Maharishi” by Lennon, shortly after he decided to leave Rishikesh. In a 1980 interview, Lennon acknowledged that the Maharishi was the inspiration for the song: “I just called him ‘Sexy Sadie’.

Helter Skelter

Probably the Beatles’ “heaviest” rock song, and often considered an influence on the developing metal genre, the fierce, raw McCartney-written rocker, has, unfortunately, become as closely associated with the Manson murders as with the Beatles—the murderous cult leader somehow interpreted the song to mean that he was to start a race war in the United States. A book on the Manson “family” took the title of the song as its own. McCartney has since re-embraced the song and includes it in his concerts to this day.  “Helter Skelter” was written by McCartney and was initially recorded in July as a blues number. The initial takes were performed by the band live and included long passages during which they jammed on their instruments. Because these takes were too long to practically fit on an LP, the song was shelved until September, when a new, shorter, version was made. By all accounts, the session was chaotic, but nobody dared suggest to any of the Beatles that they were out of control. Harrison reportedly ran around the studio while holding a flaming ashtray above his head, “doing an Arthur Brown” The stereo version of the LP includes almost an extra minute of music compared to the mono, which culminates in Starr infamously shouting “I’ve got blisters on my fingers!” . Charles Manson was unaware that helter skelter is the British name for a spiral slide found on a playground or funfair, and assumed the track had something to do with hell. This was one of the key tracks that led Manson to believe the album had coded messages referring to apocalyptic war, and led to his movement of the same name.

Long, Long, Long

This folkish, placid, ethereal tune was penned by George in Rishikesh and, he said, was addressed at God, although it could also be interpreted as being directed toward a missed ex-lover. John sat this one out while Paul provided the Hammond organ as well as the bass, with engineer Chris Thomas playing piano and Ringo, of course, on the drums. It was the final song on side three is Harrison’s “Long, Long, Long”, part of the chord progression for which he took from Bob Dylan’s “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”. MacDonald describes the song as Harrison’s “touching token of exhausted, relieved reconciliation with God” and considered it to be his “finest moment on The Beatles”. The recording session for the basic track was one of the longest the Beatles ever undertook, running from the afternoon of 7th October through the night until 7 am the next day. McCartney played Hammond organ on the track, and an “eerie rattling” effect at the end was created by a note causing a wine bottle on top of the organ’s Leslie speaker to resonate.

Side four

Revolution 1

The Beatles recorded three “Revolution” songs in 1968: “Revolution 9,” the avant-garde sound collage; the un-numbered, hard-rocking “Revolution,” released as a single; and “Revolution 1,” a bluesy, slowed-down, shuffling version. That’s the one that appears on the White Album and, like the single, it found John expressing empathy with the revolutionary fervour of the tense time while simultaneously cautioning against violence. While Nicky Hopkins added piano to the single version, he’s not on the album cut, which instead includes horn players and backing vocals.

“Revolution 1” was the first track recorded for the album, with sessions for the backing track starting on 30th May. The initial takes were recorded with the aim of it being a possible single, but as the session progressed, the arrangement became slower, with more of a laid-back groove. The group ended the chosen take with a six-minute improvisation that had further overdubs added, before being cut to the length heard on the album. The brass arrangement was added later.

Honey Pie

Paul, whose father led a jazz big band, always harboured an appreciation for the British music hall style, and “Honey Pie,” which he wrote, is a direct tribute to the form. At one point the staticky crackle of a 78 RPM record was added to give the song an old-time feel. Although the others weren’t quite as enamoured of the old music as Paul, they each played on the track, as do a team of horn men, including one George Martin on sax and clarinet. “Honey Pie” was written by McCartney as a pastiche of the flapper dance style from the 1920s. The opening section of the track had the sound of an old 78 RPM record overdubbed while Martin arranged a saxophone and clarinet part in the same style. Lennon played the guitar solo on the track, but later said he hated the song, calling it “beyond redemption”.

Savoy Truffle

What might have been a throwaway from anyone else—the soul-flavoured song was written by George and inspired by Eric Clapton’s love of sweets—becomes a compelling tune in the Beatles’ hands. John takes a break from this session, and in addition to Ringo and Paul, plus a six-piece horn section and Chris Thomas on keyboards boosts up the sound. Strangely enough, Ella Fitzgerald once covered the tune. “Savoy Truffle” was named after one of the types of chocolate found in a box of Mackintosh’s Good News, which Clapton enjoyed eating. The track featured a saxophone sextet arranged by Thomas, who also played keyboards. Harrison later said that Derek Taylor helped him finish the lyrics.

Cry Baby Cry

This somewhat haunting number was written by John, with playing input from the other three plus George Martin on the harmonium. On the album, it’s followed by the brief uncredited snippet by Paul, “Can You Take Me Back?,” which actually originated during a jam session that arose out of one of the takes for “I Will.”

Lennon began writing “Cry Baby Cry” in late 1967 and the lyrics were partly derived from a tagline for an old television commercial. George Martin played harmonium on the track.

Revolution 9

The most controversial “song” on the White Album, the experimental “Revolution 9” was John’s creation, influenced heavily by Yoko. Paul and Ringo are nowhere to be found, but George was involved, contributing some guitar, vocals and sound effects. Ono can also be heard on the track. Largely constructed around tape loops and other snippets of sound, the audio collage has been interpreted in many different ways. Lennon said at the time that it was about death, but he discounted that explanation later and said it was just a collection of unrelated sounds. The spoken word snippet at the beginning is Alistair Taylor (late manager Brian Epstein’s personal assistant) saying to George Martin, “I would’ve gotten claret for you but I’ve realized I’ve forgotten all about it, George, I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”

“Revolution No 9” evolved from the overdubs from the “Revolution 1” coda. Lennon, Harrison and Ono added further tape collages and spoken word extracts, in the style of Karlheinz Stockhausen. The track opens with an extract from a Royal Schools of Music examination tape, and ends with Ono’s infamous comment, “you become naked”. Ono was heavily involved in the production, and advised Lennon on what tape loops to use. McCartney did not contribute to the track, and was reportedly unhappy on it being included, though he had led similar tape experiments such as “Carnival of Light” in January 1967.The track has attracted both interest and disapproval from fans and music critics over the years.

Good Night

Ringo Starr, as the singer, is the only Beatle who appears on the track, which features a full orchestra arranged and conducted by George Martin. John wrote the lush ballad for his son Julian, who was five at the time. The final words on the White Album are, “Good night. Good night, everybody. Everybody, everywhere. Good night.” “Good Night” was a lullaby written by Lennon for his son Julian, and he specifically wanted Starr to sing it. The early takes featured just Lennon on acoustic guitar and Starr singing, Martin scored an orchestral and choral arrangement that replaced the guitar in the final mix, and also played the celesta.

Unreleased material

Some songs that the Beatles were working on individually during this period were revisited for inclusion on the group’s subsequent albums, while others were eventually released on the band members’ solo albums. According to the bootlegged album of the demos made at Kinfauns, the latter of these two categories includes Lennon’s “Look at Me” and “Child of Nature” (eventually reworked as “Jealous Guy”); McCartney’s “Junk”; and Harrison’s “Not Guilty” and “Circles”. In addition, Harrison gave “Sour Milk Sea” to the singer Jackie Lomax, whose recording, produced by Harrison, was released in August 1968 as Lomax’s debut single on Apple Records. Lennon’s “Mean Mr. Mustard” and “Polythene Pam” would be used for the medley on Abbey Road the following year.

The Lennon-written “What’s the New Mary Jane” was demoed at Kinfauns and recorded formally (by Lennon, Harrison and Ono) during the 1968 album sessions. McCartney taped demos of two compositions at Abbey Road“Etcetera” and “The Long and Winding Road” – the last of which the Beatles recorded in 1969 for their album Let It Be. The Beatles versions of “Not Guilty” and “What’s the New Mary Jane”, and a demo of “Junk”, were ultimately released on Anthology 3.

“Revolution (Take 20)”, a previously uncirculated recording, surfaced in 2009 on a bootleg. This ten-minute take was later edited and overdubbed to create two separate tracks: “Revolution 1” and the avant-garde “Revolution 9”.

Derek and The Dominos‘ 1970 album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs” is being reissued for its 50th Anniversary as a deluxe 4LP vinyl set and across two CDs.

The original album has been half-speed mastered by Miles Showell at Abbey Road Studios and, being a double, is pressed on two LPs. Two further records of bonus material (not half-speed mastered) make up this 4LP deluxe box set.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs was celebrated back in 2011 with a deluxe, cross-format box set that featured the remastered original album (on CD, vinyl and in a 5.1 surround mix on DVD), 1973’s In Concert, and a disc of 13 bonus tracks, including new mixes of outtakes from the supergroup’s unfinished second album and a live set from The Johnny Cash Show. This new box strips things back somewhat, offering the half-speed mastered album and the 13 bonus cuts across four LPs along with the 12″ x 12″ book from the 40th anniversary set and a certificate of authenticity.  (The 2CD 40th anniversary edition will also go back into print as well, ostensibly for the 50th anniversary.) Alongside this is a further 2LPs of bonus material some of which has previously been unreleased on vinyl. All the bonus material across all of LP3 & LP4 is mastered normally (so is not half-speed mastered).

Layla was the end result of four members of Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett’s touring group – guitarist Eric Clapton (already well-known for work with Blind Faith, The Beatles and many more), singer Bobby Whitlock, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jim Gordon – coming together for a brief but fruitful series of sessions. (Their earliest session produced the briefly issued single “Tell the Truth,” produced by Phil Spector and featuring guitar work from Dave Mason and George Harrison.) The Layla sessions also featured scintillating guitar contributions from Duane Allman. Despite the album’s pedigree, the album never performed to expectations, and tragedy followed the group: Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash in 1971, Radle died in 1980 after years of drug abuse, and Gordon remains institutionalized after killing his mother during a schizophrenic episode in 1983.

But gradually, Layla‘s title track took hold as one of Clapton’s crowning achievements: written about his insatiable infatuation with Harrison’s wife Pattie Boyd (who indeed had a decade-long marriage with the guitarist after divorcing the Beatle), “Layla” became a Top 10 hit on both sides of the Atlantic in 1972; in 1990, its Gordon-led piano outro scored a pivotal scene in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas – and three years later, a striking acoustic performance for MTV’s Unplugged won a Grammy Award.

“That thing was like lightning in a bottle,” begins Bobby Whitlock talking about his short-lived band time with Eric Clapton, Derek and the Dominos. “We did one club tour, we did one photo session, then we did a tour of a bit larger venues. Then we did one studio album in Miami. We did one American tour. Then we did one failed attempt at a second album.” And all within about a year’s time in 1970.

So in this case, the oft-overused flash of lightning description is right on the money. And Whitlock was a key part of the kinetic energy behind what’s considered a genuine landmark in not just Clapton’s career but the entire classic rock genre: the 1970 album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, co-writing six of the double album’s 10 original songs, and bringing his soul-soaked Deep South keyboard skills to the musical mix, taking the vocal lead on two tracks and doubling/trading off with Clapton throughout the rest of the album.

Now, five decades later, he is the keeper of the Dominos legacy. And the dedicated survivor of a star-crossed band if there ever was one. After the band’s short flash as a working act, he descended into some three years of heroin adduction and seclusion. Duane Allman, who played on most of Layla, was killed in a motorcycle crash on October 29th, 1971. Bassist Carl Radle recorded and played with Clapton later in the ’70s and died of a kidney infection, exacerbated by his alcohol and drug abuse, in 1980. Drummer Jim Gordon as well continued to engage in substance abuse, damaging his career with behavioural issues. In 1983, he murdered his mother, claiming a voice in his head had told him to do so. He was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and has remained incarcerated ever since.

Whitlock stresses “We were better than anybody.” One of the key elements that made them what he feels were the Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band for that all-too-brief time was Whitlock’s deep Southern musical soul. Growing up a preacher’s kid in a family poor as a church mouse, he was weaned on spiritual music (and did some cotton picking in his youth). Coming of age in Memphis, Whitlock was steeped in R&B in the city where white rock ‘n’ roll was born at Sun Studio.

Although Whitlock, only 22 years old at the time, helped Clapton all but define anguished unrequited love in the most profound rock ‘n’ roll terms and tunes on songs like “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad,” “Tell the Truth” and “I Looked Away,” his own ultimate love story is something quite different, and a rather delightful one at that. Though his post-Domino years were not without their struggles, today he’s blissfully married and in musical partnership with singer, bassist, guitarist, sax player, songwriter, recording engineer and producer CoCo Carmel.

Whitlock, Clapton, Radle and Gordon became part of the core crew on the sessions for Harrison’s post-Beatles debut, All Things Must PassWhen Harrison had business elsewhere for a few days, he told the four to use the studio time with producer Phil Spector to cut some tracks, which yielded the debut Dominos 45, “Tell the Truth” b/w “Roll It Over.”

Whitlock says of Clapton, “He wanted to be Derek not Eric. He wasn’t ready to step into his role of as a solo artist at that time.” The four musicians did a show at London’s Lyceum Theatre, and then set off on a tour of small English venues as Derek & the Dominos where the admission was £1, and Clapton’s name was forbidden to be used in any advertising. In late August of ’70, the Dominos arrived at Criteria Studios in Miami to record with producer Tom Dowd. He took them to see the Allman Brothers Band, Clapton and Duane Allman bonded, and the latter joined the Layla sessions to help create some of the most incendiary dual guitar rock ever recorded. The album was suffused with Clapton’s passionate longing for his best friend Harrison’s wife Patti Boyd – interestingly, while in England Whitlock dated her sister Paula – and even though it was only a middling hit on its release, over time its stature grew to become considered a rock ‘n’ roll masterpiece.

The vinyl box comes with a 12×12″ book of sleeve notes taken from the 40th-anniversary edition. A 2CD edition will also be made available which is effectively identical to the double-CD edition issued in 2011.

The big 40th anniversary box set (which was 4CD+DVD+2LP) featured a surround sound mix on the DVD. Since that is now very hard to get hold of, it’s disappointing that the DVD hasn’t been included as with the two CDs to make a triple disc package.

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs will be reissued on 13th November 2020.

 

John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers w Eric Clapton

1966 – an age ago in football terms, but still a ridiculous year for music. The Kinks were blazing on a sunny afternoon while The Rolling Stones were painting it black, Dylan was having Visions Of Johanna, Otis Redding was writing the Dictionary Of Soul… The Beatles were reminding us Tomorrow Never Knows, while The Beach Boys were doing God Only Knows. Somewhere in amongst this tremendous crop of records, a fanatical 21-year-old guitarist who had turned his back on chart success with The Yardbirds a year earlier returned to express his heavily amplified love for the blues – and in the process, make an all-time-classic guitar album.

The band Eric Clapton joined in April of 1965, was led by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist John Mayall, had an ever-revolving cast and eventually, over 100 different line-ups performed under the Bluesbreakers moniker. Eric actually joined twice – he departed the Bluesbreakers in August to tour Greece with a band called The Glands before returning to the fold in November – but by March 1966, the band were ready to record and headed to Decca Studios with producer Mike Vernon.

Having moved on from his Yardbirds’ pairing of Telecaster through a Vox, Clapton instead turned to a 1960 Les Paul Standard through a Marshall Model 1962 2×12 combo, both turned up to full with the mic placed two feet from the amp, a Dallas Rangemaster treble booster and a blanket placed over the whole shebang. Clapton said he’d come across the sound accidentally, when trying to emulate Freddie King: “I would use the bridge pickup with all of the bass turned up, so the sound was very thick and on the edge of distortion. I also always used amps that would overload. Everything was on full and overloading” (though photos from the sessions show the Les Paul in middle position, too, and there are a variety of distinct tones on the record, implying Clapton varied his amp gain and treble to suit).

This pairing shook the studio to its foundations and the guitar world to its core for decades to come, and the ‘Beano’ Les Paul – stolen during rehearsals for Cream in 1966 – has become one of the guitar world’s Holy Grail instruments, with its performance on this record possibly even single-handedly saving the model itself from extinction.

But knowing what tone caps, neck profile, humbucker covers, amp settings, issue of The Beano he was holding on the cover or the length of Eric’s sideburns won’t get you close to the real essential ingredient behind all of the mythology: Clapton’s playing. Blending major and minor, unison bends and double stops, sustaining notes and feedback, the album’s solos were all recorded live (except for Stepping Out) and are packed with endless creativity, delivered with a perfect mix of edgy ferocity and fastidious precision. So if you want to improve your electric-blues phrasing and don’t know them already, it really is time to re-listen and learn the key licks…

Otis Rush’s swung minor blues single “All Your Love (I Miss Loving)” from 1958 featured not one but two timeless guitar figures: the uppercut single-finger slide up the E string to announce its main lick and the heavily vibrato’d three-finger A minor triad arpeggio at the beginning of the solo. Clapton reproduces both faithfully, before breaking into a strident solo that shows off the power and sustain of his newfound sound.

Eric was also in thrall to the fleet-fingered melodic charm of Freddie King and the cover of his “Hide Away” trades some of the bite of King’s staccato licks to instead emphasise the dynamic range of his Les Paul/Marshall combo. It’s a masterclass from start to finish, but if you only steal one thing, make it the looped major-key bends in the break at 1:30.

The John Mayall original “Have You Heard” may be sweetened by its Buddy Guy-influenced vocal falsetto, Hammond and horns, but its guitar solo is pure evil. Studio needles in the red, everything on full, at 3:25 a frantic Clapton rinses every squeal, slide, bend and drop of emotion out of his six strings in what, to this day, remains a career-high solo.

Finally, the Bluesbreakers’ high-octane reworking of Memphis Slim’s 1959 piano-blues instrumental “Steppin’ Out” (featuring a string-scraping solo by Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy) not only has one of the most satisfying silences in the blues (2:04), it also has one of its most exquisite examples of feedback (2:22). But the lick to learn is the trio of expressive, lightning-fast slides descending along the G string at 0:17: a subtle but expressive touch that shows Clapton’s playing was on a different level to everyone else at the time.

The Beano union was intense but short lived and when Eric Clapton saw Buddy Guy’s trio play live, he left to form a new ‘supergroup’ with Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, both of whom had previously played with Mayall. In December of the same year, when Cream released Fresh Cream, the world saw the guitarist who had burnished his reputation on the Beano album’s amped-up Chicago blues undergo another metamorphosis, launching his talent for extended improvisation into the realms of psychedelia.

Just as Clapton’s Yardbirds exit had paved the way for Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, his departure for Cream opened the door for John Mayall to showcase the talents of Mick Taylor and Peter Green – clearly, you could look under a rock in the mid 60s and find innovative guitarists teeming and clambering over one another.

But the Beano album is the mother lode of blues-rock guitar, and without its influence, a legion of guitarists – among them Peter Green, Gary Moore, Jeff Beck, Eddie Van Halen, Billy Gibbons, Joe Bonamassa, John Mayer, Stevie Ray Vaughan, even Hendrix – may have sounded quite different.

The band:

  • John Mayall, vocals, piano, organ, harmonica
  • Eric Clapton, guitar, vocals
  • John McVie, bass
  • Hughie Flint, drums
  • John Almond, sax
  • Alan Skidmore, tenor sax
  • Dennis Healey, trumpet
  • Gus Dudgeon, engineering

Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton performs on stage during Music For The Marsden 2020 at The O2 Arena on March 03, 2020 in London, England.

Eric Clapton has released his performance of “Badge” from the release of his “Crossroads Guitar Festival 2019”. (The title is coming in a variety of formats.) Following a six-year hiatus, the event once again summoned a classic rock all-star team for his fifth such festival, which was held at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas, over two days on September 20-21. Among the highlights from the package include Jeff Beck’s cover of the Beach Boys’ “Caroline, No,” Clapton and Peter Frampton’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” tribute to George Harrison

The festival was also the launchpad for the global ‘Turn Up For Recovery’ movement, which is helping bring awareness of abstinence-based recovery and raise funds to provide treatment at Crossroads for those in need.

The 2019 concert event raised funds for the Crossroads Centre based in Antigua, the chemical dependency treatment and education facility that Clapton founded in 1998.

The two concerts featured performances by Clapton, Jeff Beck, Doyle Bramhall II, Gary Clark Jr., Robert Cray, Sheryl Crow, Andy Fairweather Low, Peter Frampton, Vince Gill, Buddy Guy, Los Lobos, John Mayer, Keb’ Mo’, Bonnie Raitt, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jimmie Vaughan and more. Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival 2019 will be available on November 20th in several configurations: 3-CD, 6-LP, 2-DVD and 2-Blu-rays.

Throughout the show, Clapton shared the stage with others to perform some of his best-known songs, including “Layla” with John Mayer, plus acoustic versions of “Wonderful Tonight” and “Lay Down Sally” with Andy Fairweather Low. Clapton also paid tribute to his late friend George Harrison with a rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with Peter Frampton

Watch Clapton perform “Badge,” The on-stage collaborations provided some of the most compelling moments. Highlights include a cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog” by Doyle Bramhall II, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Jim Keltner and actor Bill Murray (the festival’s M.C.); Buddy Guy and Johnny Lang ripping through Guy’s classic “Cognac”; and a version of the Merle Haggard hit “Tonight The Bottle Let Me Down” by Vince Gill, Albert Lee, Bradley Walker, and dobro master Jerry Douglas. For the encore, Clapton returned to the stage to lead ensemble performances of Prince’s “Purple Rain” and Joe Cocker’s “High Time We Went.”

The first Crossroads Benefit Concert took place in 1999 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Crossroads Guitar Festival made its debut in 2004 at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. That sold-out show was chronicled in a two-disc DVD that has since gone on to become one of the world’s top-selling music DVDs, achieving the 10x platinum mark in the U.S. The 2007 collection was certified 6x platinum; the 2010 set was certified 3x platinum; and the 2013 set was certified platinum. Since 2004, the Crossroads Guitar Festival has been held every three years except in 2016.

A 35 Disc Deluxe Box Set from the Godfather of the British blues : There are box sets and then there are BOX SETS. John Mayall’s ‘The First Generation 1965-1974 set sits firmly in the latter category, being substantial both in the artefacts contained within and the superb music it encompasses. It is the first time a set of this size has been released documenting John Mayall’s influential early years and, not only does it have all the albums from his much lauded formative career, but it also contains unreleased tracks aplenty.

Featuring Eric Clapton, Peter Green, Mick Taylor, Harvey Mandel, Blue Mitchell, Jon Mark and many more outstanding musicians, this mammoth package contains 35 CDs plus a beautiful hardback book and much more. Not for nothing did John Mayall earn the moniker ‘The Godfather of British Blues’. For a short but compelling time in the ‘60s and ‘70s he recognised raw talent when he saw it, he took it in, he nurtured it, and everyone thrived and benefitted as the result.

Says a press release describing the collection: “It is the first time a set of this size has been released documenting John Mayall’s early years and not only does it have all the albums from his much-lauded formative career but it also has unreleased tracks aplenty. Many of the best musicians of the period passed through the hallowed ranks of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and all are on show here in a stunning set crammed with musical highlights. Put together with John Mayall’s full co-operation, the full list of contents is as follows:- 35 discs, including 3 CD Singles & 8 previously unreleased discs, alongside newly remastered versions of the original Decca & Polydor albums.

The press release continues with further details: “Not for nothing did John Mayall earn the moniker ‘Godfather of the British Blues.’ For a short but compelling time in the ’60s and ’70s he recognized raw talent when he saw it, he took it in, he nurtured it and everyone thrived and benefitted as the result. Many of the best musicians of the period passed through the hallowed ranks of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, and all are on show here in a stunning set crammed with musical highlights. 

Music from seven unreleased gigs (including Windsor 1967, Gothenburg 1968, Berlin 1969 and San Francisco 1970 and others).- 28 unreleased BBC tracks featuring guitarists Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor.- Individually signed photograph.- Hardback book including many rare photos and memorabilia plus a full gig listing for the period.- Separate book including fan club letters and correspondence.- Two replica posters – Ten Years Are Gone and tour poster from 1968.- Replica press pack for John Mayall Plays John Mayall.

This box set will be limited to 5,000 copies worldwide and is released on January 29th, 2021 on the Madfish label through Snapper Music.

Pre-Order the Box here: https://JohnMayallMusic.lnk.to/TheFirstGeneration

Buy Online John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers - European Union (Live In The UK & Germany) Blue

The legendary John Mayall’s various bands were a revolving door of musical greats.
This superb new collection gathers performances by three separate outfits, featuring outstanding performances by Eric Clapton, John McVie, Mick Taylor and others. Originally performed live for radio and TV broadcast, they’re presented in superb fidelity here, together with background notes and images.

Incredible collection of performances, live in session from the UK and Germany, Includes BBC radio, Radio Bremen and WDR-TV broadcasts, Digitally remastered for greatly enhanced sound quality
Background liners and rare images First time on vinyl with Hand numbered editions.

Track Listing:
Side One
SATURDAY CLUB
March 19th 1966 | BBC Radio
1. On Top Of The World (John Mayall) 2.31
2. Key To Love (John Mayall) 2.00
3. Hideaway (Sonny Thompson / Freddie King) 3.20
4. Little Girl (John Mayall) 2.45
5. Tears In My Eyes (John Mayall) 4.28
6. Parchman Farm (Mose Allison / Bukka White) 2.21

John Mayall – vocals, keyboards, harmonica, guitar
Eric Clapton – guitar John McVie bass Hughie Flint – drums

DIE GLOCKE KONZERTHAUS
Bremen, Germany May 22nd 1969 | Radio Bremen
7. Love Me Baby If You Can (John Mayall) 5.53
8. Checkin’ Up On My Baby (Sonny Boy Williamson) 5.09

Side Two
1. Parchman Farm (Mose Allison / Bukka White) 13.50
2. Time Has Come (John Mayall) 6.12
3. 2401 (John Mayall) 5.32

John Mayall – keyboards, harp Mick Taylor – guitar
Steve Thompson – bass Collin Allen – drums

BEAT CLUB
January 31st 1970 | WDR-TV
4. I’m Gonna Fight For You J.B. 4.08

A previously unreleased performance by Eric Clapton and B.B. King was announced for the 20th-anniversary reissue of their “Riding With the King” album.

The duo’s version of the blues standard “Rollin’ and Tumblin” is one of two tracks added to the original LP for its re-release on June 26th.

“Eric Clapton and B.B. King first performed together in NYC in 1967,” a statement said. “Over 30 years later, in 1999, the two long time friends joined forces to create a collection of all-new studio recordings of blues classics and contemporary songs. The resulting album, Riding With the King, would be released in June 2000 and go onto sell over 2 million copies in the U.S. and win the 2000 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album.” “Of rock ‘n’ roll guitarists, nobody plays better than he does, and he plays blues better than a lot of us,” the late King said of Clapton in a 2000 interview with Rolling Stone.

“It’s been said many times, ‘Why don’t you and Eric do something together?’ Finally, he found the time, and here we are. … I told him to pick all of the tunes and if I disagreed we’d talk about it — and we didn’t. He had such a memory for bringing up old tunes and such a great idea for getting new ones together. So I trust him completely.”

Along with “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” the album also features the unreleased track “Let Me Love You.” Official Audio for “Rollin and Tumblin” previously unreleased, from Eric Clapton and B.B. King’s ‘Riding With The King’ 20th anniversary edition available on June 26th,

See the source image

Jack Bruce  was asked “What do you think these days, about the Cream songs you wrote?” the reply: I don’t call them Cream songs. I call them songs that I wrote at that time. OK, tell me about “White Room,” for example. I’m really happy with that song, because it’s paid the rent for a while. It’s quite a daring song in that it starts in 5/4 and was a huge hit. There aren’t many of those—Blondie’s “Heart Of Glass” has bars of 7/8 in it, that was a good song.

I think it’s important that writers take chances and risks. Record companies and a lot of people underestimate the public tremendously, so you end up with a public that doesn’t know. But if you reckon that the people you’re playing for are fairly hip, then they’ll really get into it. “White Room” has some of Ginger’s best drumming—when he brings in that extra bass drum at the end, it’s a whole new dimension.

How about some of the Cream gigs? Or should I say the gigs you played at that time. I think your debut was at the Twisted Wheel in Manchester in 1966. You were still playing your Fender VI, before you got the Gibson EB-3. I don’t know who suggested the Twisted Wheel. It might well have been Ginger. But why not? One of the better clubs in Britain, without any doubt. I think it was a pretty good gig. We had a big American estate car, which blew up on the way to the Twisted Wheel. I don’t remember how we got there in the end.

So then we got our Austin Westminster band car. There’d be the driver and roadie, Ben Palmer, and three in the band, two Marshall stacks, and the drums. That’s what we’d get in with any relative comfort and spliff-rolling capabilities. We’d drive there and come back the same day.

What do you recall about playing the Flamingo in London?:

I did the all-nighters there a lot, that was one of my very early gigs. I played the Flamingo with Alexis, too, a bit, but mainly the all-nighters with pickup bands, usually Ginger on drums, Dick Heckstall-Smith on tenor sax, and Johnny Burch on piano. The band room of the Flamingo in the early ’60s was the centre of the universe, really. It had a pet rat that used to run in the rafters above. Just a fabulous place to hang out. The Marquee was good, the 100 Club was good, but the Flamingo was the hip place. A guy called Ronnie Chambers used to look after the Flamingo. He’d get excited sometimes and rush on stage waving his gun about if the music was particularly good. His line was, “Hey, you want a watch?” And he’d pull up the sleeve of his suit and he’d have all these watches up his arm. Those were really great days, quite innocent really.

I’ve got a copy of a contract here for a 1966 Cream gig in Stockton [northern England] for £75.

Seventy-five quid? Well, that’s pretty good bread for then. I remember the first big-money gig we got with the Graham Bond Organisation, a bit earlier, I think Newcastle or Durham University or something, we got £40. We thought, Wow! We’ve hit the big time! A few of those and we can retire. Bearing in mind that people were probably earning a quarter of that as a decent weekly wage. So I don’t think Cream was making very good money at first from gigs—I think that came much later. I’m afraid I’m very vague about anything financial.

How about the early American gigs, maybe the Fillmore? . The Fillmore was great in San Francisco, and obviously 1967 was the year to be there, really. It would take off some nights, and this was when we first started doing the extended improvisations in Cream. It was new to the band. Up to this series of gigs, we just played little songs live, very short: three, four, five minute versions of the songs. And since there were only three of us, it wasn’t like: “You do a solo, then I’ll do a solo, then you.” It was: “Eric, do a solo.”

“Our albatross was having to do very long solos when you maybe didn’t feel like it. Mixed blessings, really.” We would sometimes strip it down to where Eric would play completely unaccompanied, for quite a long time [laughs]. And I remember him doing some quite incredible stuff, quite amazing. But they weren’t recorded.

The change was, quite simply, that we were fed up with doing that, and the audience was so great at the Fillmore, they were all so out of it, all sort of laidback, and would say, “Just play!” They wouldn’t let us go. So we just started playing, jamming as it were, and that turned into what we became known for. We didn’t sit down and have a big discussion: “Oh, let’s do this.” I think it was the same way that The Who became known for smashing up their equipment and all of that, and that became their albatross.

Is your academic musical background of use to you?

Yes, because if I’m sitting on a plane, say, and I have an idea, I can always write it down. I can write all my own horn parts, as on my new album, I can write my own arrangements. In fact, thinking back to “I Feel Free” and “White Room,” I was much closer to the academic days—which in fact were very shortlived. I did A-level music and then I went to The Royal Scottish Academy of Music, studying composition and cello, part-time and then full-time. And then we sort of threw each other out. They didn’t like me because I was improvising.

When I left the Academy, I was playing acoustic stand-up bass, and I heard about this band in Coventry, guy called Murray Campbell, it was a Mecca dance band. I was playing bass with Andy Park and some local people in Glasgow—he turned me on to Thelonious Monk. I just wanted to go out there, I wanted to be the next Scott LaFaro. Not much hope of that, but when you’re young you’re very ambitious. Ambitious, certainly, and also with some strong jazz roots, it seems.

The roots thing is very important to me. I think the difference between my roots and someone else’s is that I didn’t come from rock ‘n’ roll, I came from jazz, basically. I was playing with Ginger and Graham Bond, we were an alto–acoustic bass–drums trio, very much in the style of what Ornette Coleman was doing in the late ’50s, Charlie Haden and so on. That was my roots.

Anyway, I left home at 17 and went down to audition for this band I’d heard about, because they were playing Maynard Ferguson, Dizzy Gillespie big-band arrangements. The audition piece was Dizzy’s “One Bass Hit.” It’s a very difficult piece, so it was sorting out the men from the boys. And even though I was 17, I got the gig. A very good band.

I travelled around the country playing with jazz bands—I played with Chet Baker, and then with a fairly good cocktail-jazz band on the American Air Force bases, which was great because it introduced me to Mingus. They had these great record collections, and I steeped myself in Mingus records. It completely changed my life, because that introduced me, though I didn’t know it at the time, to the blues. Because really, what Mingus did was to bring country blues to jazz. Then I came to London and joined Alexis Korner.

Well, there was a place in London called “the street,” Archer Street, round the back of Piccadilly Circus. One day a week at lunchtime, all the musicians would go down there and you’d get work. Hundreds of musicians hanging out with their little books, getting their weddings and bar mitzvahs, this whole street would be thronged of musicians. That’s how I got the cocktail-jazz job, and Chet Baker. Then I tried to make it as a jazz bass player in London and had some tough times. I was playing with this band called Jim McHargs & His Scotsville Jazz Band. And Jimmy McHargs was the bass player, so how I got that job I still haven’t worked out.

This was 1961, ’62, and we got a gig at a Cambridge May Ball. And then I hear this amazing sound emanating from a cellar they had there. I went down, and it was Dick Heckstall-Smith on sax, Kathy Stobart singing, forget who was on piano, a guy called Morris on bass, and the guy on drums was called Ginger Baker. I went and asked to sit in, and they said they didn’t encourage that. I think they may have thought I was a student, though how they could have thought I was a student at Cambridge I don’t know. But anyway, I persuaded them, and they did the old trick of what jazzers do when someone sits in, which is to make them look stupid. So first they played something with very difficult changes at an incredible tempo.

So then they played a ballad and said: “You play the tune.” So OK, did that. And then I put the bass down and left. And Dick Heckstall-Smith spent two or three weeks trying to find me, and somehow he managed, and he asked me to join Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated. It was a good job he managed to find you.

Yeah. I might still be living in that terrible room in Willesden [north-west London]. You never know. So I joined, and Charlie Watts was on drums. I became good mates with him, often slept on his couch. And Dick Heckstall-Smith I regard as a musical father in many ways. He turned me on to a lot of things. The legendary Cyril Davies was on harmonica. It was very much a rhythm and blues band.

Cyril was a panel beater by trade. He and Alexis used to play interval spots with Chris Barber, playing Lead Belly things. I haven’t heard a harp player like Cyril. OK, Little Walter is obviously the man of all time, James Cotton is good, but Cyril had something. He was so good that when Muddy Waters heard him over here, he asked him to join his band and go back and live in Chicago. Unfortunately, poor old Cyril had leukemia and didn’t have very long to live. But I don’t think he would have given up his panel-beating business anyway. Muddy doesn’t, er, pay well.

I was a terrible musical snob. I thought progressive jazz was all there was—Ornette Coleman, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, post-bebop but still with the roots. Very much what you would call modern jazz. Talking ’62, so a lot of interesting stuff was about, Blue Note was happening, Riverside was happening. I remember hearing Tony Williams for the first time around then, he made a record with Eric Dolphy called Out To Lunch which is still something I play once a week. It was Dick that explained to me that it was possible to keep your musical ideals, but apply other things to it. Fusion, in other words. You could have a great country-blues harmonica player playing with a modern jazz tenor sax player, and that it didn’t demean anything, and in fact that it was much more modern than playing an imitation Ornette Coleman. At this time there were some great fusion bands, specially the Miles Davis band, the original Return To Forever, Weather Report in its heyday. Lifetime was the fusion band. Lifetime I consider to be definitely the best musical experience of my life. [Jack played on the 1970 Tony Williams Lifetime album Turn It Over.] Anyone who was lucky enough to hear that band would tend to agree with me. Played some great gigs over here, played the Speakeasy which people still go “wow!” about. That was a great band. We all knew it was very, very special. For me, it was great playing with people up to my standard—and that’s going to sound terribly big-headed.

Lifetime was a three-piece band at that time, Tony Williams [drums], Larry Young [organ], and John McLaughlin [guitar]. John brought Tony along to this gig—Jimi Hendrix was there, we had a great time—and Tony said, “Hey, I’m recording tomorrow, would you like to come down and play on a track or two?” So I went down, and he presented me with this very complicated written part, thinking probably this guy is a rocker. So I sight-read it, because I’m trained in that way. But the thing was, we clicked rhythmically.

Oh, Miles! Miles likes Cyndi Lauper. Miles is a completely open individual, as every musician should be. There’s a lot of people in rock music that I know—I won’t mention their names—who are snobs as well. They think that if it’s not two guitars, bass, and drums, and maybe a keyboard, well, forget it. There’s a sort of inverted snobbery there that I find and that I have suffered from. And there’s a problem with guitar players in the States who all want to play like Yngwie Malmsteen. They all want to play scales very fast up and down the neck of the guitar, and they aren’t interested in finding the roots of the music. They probably go as far back as Van Halen, and think that’s the beginning, instead of where Eric went back to: Robert Johnson, Albert King, and so on.

I’m roughly the same age as Mick Jagger, John Lennon—we were all little boys who were really influenced by the very beginnings of the commercial success of early rock ‘n’ roll music. It was there in our consciousness. So we can now look back as an overview, a lot of people of our generation, and a lot of younger people, too. It’s there. You can get the entire output of Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, or somebody. In the ’60s when Cream was happening—let’s say in 1967, when we had our first real success in America—we played the Fillmore in the hippie summer and it felt like the whole world was being reborn, and musically I was so excited.

Ginger Baker and myself were really a hot jazz rhythm section, and even when Eric was playing, Cream was basically a jazz band. We never told Eric that, but that’s another story. Well, I don’t mean we were playing jazz. We certainly weren’t. We were playing improvised music, and some of the improvisations were damn good, even the recordings that were released. Which were not the best. You never get the best live stuff recorded, I’m glad to say.

Because it’s almost a pity when it’s recorded. Because live music should be something that happens and disappears, and you go home from the concert going, “Wow, that was great!” And you know you’ll never hear it again. The musicians love that magic that happens every so often. Also, I think if you stick up a microphone and you know it’s being recorded, it’s going to stop the real magic happening anyway. And I think there’s got to be something wrong with the people who go to the trouble of recording every gig.  When I listen to live Cream records now, I’m struck by the sound you got. I think if we were to play now, it would be a lot better. That side of it would be a lot better. Two of the bands that I’ve played with, at least, the great pity was that we were ahead of the technology—they were Cream and Lifetime. They hadn’t invented the real PA system yet. We used to play baseball stadiums with little 200-watt PAs. The problem that Cream had was that none of us were technically minded, in the sense that we knew what to do about it..”

You only have to look at old films of Ginger playing. I saw something recently of him playing with Blind Faith, and he was using two mics for the drums. In Hyde Park! Jimi suffered very badly from equipment, too. In Lifetime, we were playing light-years-ahead music—very fast, very loud—and that was the loudest band I’ve ever played in. Cream wasn’t that loud. Volume is a very relative thing. I think even symphony orchestras are playing louder now. People are going deaf! In those days, if you had 100 watts for the guitar and 100 watts for the bass and 200 watts for the vocals, that was damned loud. In Alexis Korner’s band, we all went through one little amplifier and two speakers either side of the stage—and people thought that was loud! People have got used to louder things. And, of course, we now have more sophisticated sound equipment, which in those days just did not exist. The first time I played electric bass was for Island Records with a guy called Ernest Ranglin, a Jamaican jazz guitar player. We recorded an EP called Ernest Ranglin And The ‘G.Bs’. It was Ernest, Graham Bond on Hammond, Ginger on drums, and me on a bass guitar that I borrowed from some music shop.

I’m a very stolid person. It takes me a long time to change, so I was against bass guitars. But that session was all it took. God, I thought, it’s loud, and I can play so easily. I can play louder than Ginger! He didn’t like it. I was totally convinced, so I went out and bought my first electric bass, which was a Top Ten [he means the Teisco-made Top Twenty brand], a Japanese bass—and “Japanese” didn’t mean very much in those days. It was all I could afford. Sounded pretty good to me. Kept giving me terrible electric shocks, though.

Marvin Gaye came over here. He’d just had his first few hits, must have been ’65. Graham Bond got the job of putting the band together to do a TV show with Marvin, we were playing things like “How Sweet It Is,” and I was going so he asked me to join, but unfortunately—unfortunately? Fortunately, I was getting married and I couldn’t go.

But that did encourage me that I was on the right track, because I was having a lot of problems, specially from Ginger who thought my bass playing was becoming too busy. It was just that he could hear me now. Suddenly there was a bass, and I was playing melody.

I’ve always thought that good music is not a melody and a block and boom-boom. To me good music is all melody—the drums should be playing tunes, the bass should be playing tunes, it should be counterpoint. I like to be able to listen to a lot of things going on, as opposed to one block—unless that’s what you want. I like moving parts, and that’s what a lot of the great Stax and Tamla things are. A lot of great soul music is very contrapuntal. So James Jamerson to me was Tamla Motown, as much as any of the great singers. He’s what made it great, this bass player.

What’s your feeling these days on the way Cream ended? I mean, why did the band break up? The kind of theoretical reason given is that we all wanted to go our separate ways and do different things. The real reason was the greed of the management. They never gave us a minute’s rest, because they drove us into the ground. We were all exhausted, and we hated each other. We were selling more records than The Beatles; the first platinum album; all that stuff. So they thought, let’s get these guys happening, you know?

And so we used to make records, we’d do the recording but wouldn’t be at the mixes. We wouldn’t know what was going to be on the records sometimes. We’d drive past some record shop, go in and buy our record to see what was on it. That’s the way it was in those days. I think most of the Cream songs are alright, there’s just not enough of them, for those reasons.

That final Cream tour in 1968 must have been a weird one. I suppose vaguely I thought it wasn’t our final tour. Mixed feelings. The height of success that we’d had, and we were splitting. Very strange feeling. Some of it was fun, because a lot of the pressure had gone. The Madison Square Garden gig was done in a very joke way, using the house PA, the same one that comes down from the ceiling where they say, “And in the blue corner—” And on a revolving stage. People who saw that gig couldn’t believe it. You’d get a big loud bit of Eric, then a big loud bit of Ginger, then Eric would disappear and I’d arrive, you know.

I remember getting the platinum discs at Madison Square Garden. Robert Stigwood and Ahmet Ertegun got on stage to present us with these in the middle of the set, and the audience just went “Booooo!” Very embarrassing. Very nice to get those, though. I wonder where mine is? I remember bringing it back to England, proudly, and they wanted me to pay duty on it.

The success is nice. But then the feeling is that it’s going to end. I had other things going on in my life. I wanted to have a kid, I wanted to have a house, the different things that people do, as opposed to living out of a suitcase. So there was that to look forward to. It was a good time, really, and I think some of the gigs on that last tour were really, really good, considering. I think we had something slightly better organized sound-wise. I remember one of the first big gigs on that tour, maybe it was Oakland, I remember going with Eric right up to the very furthest-away seats you could go to, and these tiny little dots where we would be, and going, “Fucking hell! We’ve come a long way from the Twisted Wheel.”

 

 

       

Hindsight may be less than favorable concerning the super-group phenomenon, but Delaney and Bonnie’s efforts represent the most complementary and productive examples of the communal creativity at the heart of this approach, one which crystallized in the brief roadwork captured. On Tour with Eric Clapton recently released in an expanded edition; it’s little wonder this group, headed primarily by Delaney, went on to supervisor EC’s eponymous solo debut (see Bracelet’s mix, markedly different and arguably superior to, than official producer Tom Dowd’s, included in the Deluxe Edition CD set of that album).

   

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On Tour with Eric Clapton-Expanded Edition The four CDs in this set originally comprised a Very high-priced, limited edition package, the design of which replicated an equipment road-case. The cover artwork here mirrors that and, presumably, a pristine sound mix courtesy Bill Inglot and Dan Hersch that pulses with no small measure of the excitement in those moments.Including extensive historical notes by Bud Scoppa taken from perspectives as varied as Bonnie Bramlett herself and engineer Glyn Johns, as well as technical notes, the newly-issued set turns into a true labor of love that’s worth the dramatically reduced price. The complete concert from the Royal Albert Hall in London accompanies composites and further complete later shows on the seven-day tour; and while not surprisingly, there’s more than a little overlap, the ostensible redundancy really serves to further illustrate how infectious are these performances. And while Eric Clapton’s participation is limited to the sideman role he preferred at that time, he does take a lead vocal on “I Don’t Know Why” and there’s no mistaking what his guitar work adds to this roiling eclectic mix of vocals, keyboards, horns (trumpeter Jim Price and saxophonist Bobby Keys who went on to play with the Rolling Stones) and a redoubtable rhythm section.Given the durability and spirit of the setlist, including The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’,” “Only You Know and I Know,” (composed by ex-Traffic member Dave Mason, whose presence in the band is given short shrift) and most conspicuously “Coming Home” with its clarion call guitar figure, it really no surprise it didn’t change much night tonight.

As no pictures of Delaney and Bonnie were deemed good enough for the album cover, a photo was used instead of a Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn in a desert, reportedly taken by manager Barry Feinstein while working as a photographer covering a Bob Dylan tour in 1966. Dylan’s feet are those hanging from the car window.

On Tour was re-issued in 2010 as four-disc box set, packaged in a mock road case containing the complete performance from the Royal Albert Hall, plus a composite of the next night’s performances at Colston Hall in Bristol, and both the early and late shows from the tour’s final stop at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. George Harrison played slide guitar on the English leg of the tour that followed the Albert Hall performance, as well as in Scandinavia, therefore he doesn’t appear on the first disc but does on the other three.

On Tour with Eric Clapton is a 1970 album by Delaney & Bonnie with Eric Clapton, recorded live at the Fairfield Halls, England. Released on Atco Records, The album features Delaney and Bonnie’s best-known touring band, including Eric Clapton, Jim Gordon, Carl Radle, Bobby Whitlock, and Dave Mason. Many of the players on this album would later go on to work with George Harrison on his post-Beatles debut album All Things Must Pass and with Clapton on his solo debut. The horn players Bobby Keys and Jim Price would play on the albums Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main St by the Rolling Stones, and join them for their 1972 STP Tour. Whitlock, Radle, and Gordon would form with Clapton his band Derek and the Dominos for Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs.

The album has received highly positive reviews, with many critics suggesting the album is superior to Clapton’s prior project (Blind Faith) . In the Rolling Stone Album Guide, the album is described as “a triumph”, which is attributed to the fact the band was “one of the best” in “rock and roll”. Writing for Rolling Stone, Mark Kemp said the album contained “wicked performances of the kind of country and boogie that would define Southern rock”.Mojo described the album as “one of the two Rosetta Stones of roots rock’n’roll”.

The Band:
Bonnie Bramlett — vocals
Delaney Bramlett — guitars, vocals
Eric Clapton — lead guitars, vocals
Rita Coolidge — backing vocals
Jim Gordon — drums, percussion
George Harrison (under the pseudonym L’Angelo Misterioso) – guitars (discs two — four of box set only)
Tex Johnson – percussion
Bobby Keys — saxophone
Dave Mason — guitars
Carl Radle — bass guitar
Jim Price — trombone, trumpet
Bobby Whitlock — organ, keyboards, vocals

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Buy Online Blind Faith - Hyde Park '69 Red

Blind Faith, live set from Hyde Park, London 1969 was THE year of the festival – a stellar year by which all others have been judged. Across North America and the UK there seemed to be a festival happening somewhere, almost every weekend of the summer. The Blind Faith concert was the first of four concerts scheduled for 1969. Opening the show was the Third Ear Band along with Richie Havens, Donovan and the Edgar Broughton Band (no UK festival seemed to be complete without them). The stage they all played on was somewhat makeshift in appearance and was only about a meter or so high.

Blind Faith’s debut was the most hotly anticipated gig of its time, and took place in front of 100,000 people on a sweltering Saturday afternoon. Although they were nervous and under-prepared, they turned in a frequently superb set spanning originals and covers. London Calling presents the incredible performance at Hyde Park, London on June 7th 1969, broadcast by BBC2. It is presented in its entirety here, together with background notes and rare images.

It was on Saturday 7th June that Blind Faith headlined the free concert that was organized by Blackhill Enterprises. Peter Jenner and Andrew King who were stalwarts of the London underground scene, having helped start the UFO club in Tottenham Court Road, ran Blackhill. Jenner had been a lecturer at the London school of Economics, and Blackhill ran their five-person business out of a converted shop just off Ladbroke Grove. Blackhill were principally agents, and it was their acts that gained most from the Hyde Park concerts, which gave them a higher profile than they would have expected from gigging around Britain laying low-key gigs. During 1968, when Blackhill first approached the UK’s Ministry of Public Building and Works about the possibility of staging concerts in Hyde Park they were met with a resounding ‘no’. However, their persistence paid off, and on 29th June 1968 Pink Floyd headlined, supported by Tyrannosaurus Rex, Jethro Tull and Roy Harper. Among the crowd were Mick Jagger and his girlfriend Marianne Faithfull. Having watched Blind Faith perform, soaked in the vibe and seen how many people there were watching, Mick decided that a free concert in Hyde Park to promote The Rolling Stones’ new single and get them back in the public eye would be just the thing for the band that had been through something of a low period. As a nod to Mick, who stood watching from the side stage, Blind Faith played ‘Under My Thumb’.

Blind Faith took to the stage about 5pm and began their set with ‘Well All Right’ before going on to perform most of their debut album. It was a more bluesy set, closer to the kind of thingsTraffic had been playing than toCream. According to Ginger Baker, “Eric had been doing amazing stuff, but at Hyde Park I kept on wondering when he was going to start playing. ” According to Clapton, “I came off stage shaking like a leaf because I felt that, once again, I’d let people down.”

Blind Faith’s first show, a free one in Hyde Park! , Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Ric Grech.

Tracklisting:
SIDE ONE:
1. Intro 1:25,2. Well Alright 6:27, 3. Sea Of Joy 6:13, 4. Under My Thumb 6:06, 5. Can’t Find My Way Home 6:13
SIDE TWO:
1. I’d Rather See You Sleeping In The Ground 4:41, 2. Do What You Like 5:30, 3. Presence Of The Lord 6:28, 4. Means To An End 4:21, 5. Had To Cry Today 6:56, 6. Outro 0:43