John Mayall with Eric Clapton – Blues Breakers

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  • You’ll find outstanding Double Plus (A++) sound on both sides of this superb pressing – exceptionally quiet vinyl too
  • Far more richer, smoother and livelier than most, with Tubey Magic and space you won’t believe
  • The Decca UK vinyl on this superb pressing is as QUIET as we ever expect to find for this album
  • 5 stars: “Bluesbreakers was Eric Clapton’s first fully realized album as a blues guitarist — more than that, it was a seminal blues album of the 1960s, perhaps the best British blues album ever cut, and the best LP ever recorded by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.”

This copy is guaranteed to be clearly superior to virtually all imports, all domestic pressings, whatever crappy Heavy Vinyl they’re making these days — in short, any version of this music on any format that you’ve ever played. This is it folks. They cut this one right and it doesn’t take a pair of golden ears to know it. Blues Breakers finally sounds the way you always wanted it to sound.

We’ve been searching for copies of Bluesbreakers for years — everyone wants a great copy of this Five Star Classic, the only album John Mayall ever made that we would consider a Must Own. After many, many years of experimentation and dozens of copies purchased we’ve finally discovered the British pressings that deliver the best sound we’ve ever heard for this music.

But they don’t come easy and they sure don’t come cheap, so don’t expect the floodgates to open with White Hot Stamper after White Hot Stamper hitting the site. One was it and it will be a year or two at the very least before we have a big enough stack of copies with which to do a shootout fo find another.

Until then this is a great copy that belongs in your collection, and it’s QUIET.

What the best copies of Blues Breakers have to offer is not hard to hear:

  • Tight, note-like, rich, full-bodied bass, with the correct amount of weight down lowimpo
  • Natural tonality in the midrange — with all the instruments having the correct timbre
  • Transparency and resolution, critical to hearing into the three-dimensional studio space
  • The biggest, most immediate staging in the largest acoustic space
  • The most Tubey Magic, without which you have almost nothing. CDs give you clean and clear. Only the best vintage vinyl pressings offer the kind of Tubey Magic that was on the tapes in 1966

No doubt there’s more but we hope that should do for now. Playing the record is the only way to hear all of the qualities we discuss above, and playing the best pressings against a pile of other copies under rigorously controlled conditions is the only way to find a pressing that sounds as good as this one does.

A Landmark of British Blues from 1966

This is an Timeless Classic — Allmusic calls it “perhaps the best British blues album ever cut” — and it’s been a drag for years hearing it sound dull, lifeless, bland and small the way it does on so many copies. You may recognize these descriptors for what they are: signs that the pressing is made from a dubbed tape of the master .

Even worse are the versions that are bright, brittle and phony. When you’ve got a lineup like this you need the kind of space and soundstaging separation that lets you appreciate just what each of these guys is doing, instead of the muddled mess that many of us have all but given up trying to enjoy.

To qualify as a Hot Stamper, a must offer the transparency to let listener hear into the music and appreciate how the members of this group are playing as an ensemble to create this exceptionally powerful, moving and timeless music.

Credit engineer (and later producer) Gus Dudgeon with the full-bodied, rich, smooth, oh-so-analog sound of the best copies of Bluesbreakers. He’s recorded or produced many of our favorite albums here at Better Records, most notably the classic Elton Johns from the self-titled album onward. You can find many of them on our site and on our Top 100 list. (One is even a member of our very exclusive Top Ten list, Elton’s Masterpiece, Tumbleweed Connection.

What We Listen For on Blues Breakers

  • Energy for starters. What could be more important than the life of the music?
  • Then: presence and immediacy. The vocals aren’t “back there” somewhere, lost in the mix. They’re front and center where any recording engineer worth his salt would put them.
  • The Big Sound comes next — wall to wall, lots of depth, huge space, three-dimensionality, all that sort of thing.
  • Then transient information — fast, clear, sharp attacks, not the smear and thickness so common to these LPs.
  • Tight punchy bass — which ties in with good transient information, also the issue of frequency extension further down.
  • Next: transparency — the quality that allows you to hear deep into the soundfield, showing you the space and air around all the instruments.
  • Extend the top and bottom and voila, you have The Real Thing — an honest to goodness Hot Stamper.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

All Your Love
Hideaway
Little Girl
Another Man
Double Crossing Time
What’d I Say

Side Two

Key to Love
Parchman Farm
Have You Hear
Rambling on My Mind
Steppin’ Out
It Ain’t Right

AMG Review

Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton was Eric Clapton’s first fully realized album as a blues guitarist — more than that, it was a seminal blues album of the 1960s, perhaps the best British blues album ever cut, and the best LP ever recorded by John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers.

Standing midway between Clapton’s stint with the Yardbirds and the formation of Cream, this album featured the new guitar hero on a series of stripped-down blues standards, Mayall pieces, and one Mayall/Clapton composition, all of which had him stretching out in the idiom for the first time in the studio.

This album was the culmination of a very successful year of playing with John Mayall, a fully realized blues creation, featuring sounds very close to the group’s stage performances, and with no compromises.

Credit has to go to producer Mike Vernon for the purity and simplicity of the record; most British producers of that era wouldn’t have been able to get it recorded this way, much less released. One can hear the very direct influence of Buddy Guy and a handful of other American bluesmen in the playing.

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