Wednesday, January 4, 2012
The Bluesbreakers - Hard Road (Decca - SKL 4853)
British Blues is a subgenre of the general arm and developed during the 60s and 70s in UK. It all started slowly, but due to the persistance of the pioneers, it spread fast like a giant octopus and covered whole UK in a short time span while paving the way for immensely successful groups like Rolling Stones, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, Ten Years After, Bluesbreakers etc. However their effects were felt on a much wider circle ranging from Rock to Folk and even Electronic Music. Quarter tones became a lifestyle in UK.
Actually British Blues is somewhat rather different in it's essence from the original. Blues originated from a musical concept of quarter tones and is the twin of Jazz in this sense. With the slavery, African music went into US and started developing there having met with European instruments. Out went wood drums, in came real drums, guitar etc.
Blues was in the blood of the AfroAmerican people in US. "Whites" didn't regard it as real music in the beginning due to stupid racism crap. However, British Blues was a learned experience where people listened to records of the American Blues artists and commenced in their own way. It is not like the original, but it is original in a different way.
Of course early bands of Alexis Korner and the likes of Bluesbreakers, Rolling Stones all relied heavily to material written by these artists from US. Later came the 2nd generation when this learning process was more natural and more songs were written. But British Blues was never pure in the sense that it was always mixed with UK musical backgrounds which was mainly Rock. You don't get to listen similar songs to Robert Johnson, Bukka White, Blind Willie McTell, Leadbelly or even Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. There are similarities to Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Albert King, and also again other 2nd generations. The main reason for this is the early Blues artists were always mixing themselves up with Folk and were extremely different in style to others. Music was extremely simplistic and not as important as the lyrics which had to tell a story. European understanding was and still is the other way around (Not saying lyrics are not important, but rather less).
Bluesbreakers's album Hard Road is a British Blues album. It contains Blues elements, yet still has a life of it's own. The mood is mainly positive as in New Orleans Jazz. Guitar solos are often as is jamming. Having said the differences, it is also important to point out that Hard Road album is a milestone in British Blues and is one of the top 50 Blues albums I've ever listened. Actually the recording members are almost the strongest of the bands career with John Mayall, Peter Green, John McVie and Aynsley Dunbar. Actually Peter Green would earn his spot after Eric Clapton departed to create Cream. With Clapton, it was the Bluesbreakers's strongest line up. No offense to Peter Green.
The album is dated 1967 which is quite the end of the early stage in British Blues explosion and most of the songs were written by Mayall and some by Green with 2 exceptions from B.B.King. Album is simple, original with very good solos and a really established sound. It clearly shows Peter Green has done well to fill most of Eric Clapton's whole. This album can be named as one of the first albums to create the way for British Blues to flourish internationally. It also started an era where American and British Blues musicians started cooperating on both sides of the Atlantic. John Mayall soon started touring Europe and US with The Bluesbreakers while Eric Clapton took on consecutive US tours with Cream a couple of years later while all these tours were extremely successful since the music was Blues, but it engulfed various aspects where the "Whites" found close to themselves and embraced.
To buy this record:
@ Music Stack