[Slowhand] Hjort's Strange Brew

Bruce Wilson kbw at mchsi.com
Tue May 8 15:12:59 EDT 2007

Hello Blues Boomers,

Just received Christopher Hjort's incredible chronology of the activities of John Mayall and his guitar triumvirate of Eric Clapton, Peter Green & Mick Taylor during the years 1965 - 70. Exhaustive, near comprehensive (I have yet to find mention of EC playing with the Beck-era Yardbirds, but it may be in there somewhere; there is an account of Beck and Page joining the Bluesbreakers onstage on August 18, '65) with many excellent black & white photos previously unseen by me. The day-by-day presentation puts the events into a larger musical context that makes it all seem even more amazing, for example April 18, '66: EC blows off a Bluesbreakers gig to attend a Lovin' Spoonful concert. George Harrison recalls seeing him there, and after leaving with John Lennon, "...I remembered thinking, 'We should've invited that guy cos I'm sure we know him from somewhere,' and [he] just seemed, like, lonely." Meanwhile, back at the Bluesbreakers gig, after the first set ends, audience member Mick Taylor "...asked John if I could play, and I was really nervous. I was still kind of learning how to play blues guitar - I was really not that good. I played Eric's guitar." An essential read.

Art Thompson's 'Guitar Player' review:
Strange Brew: Eric Clapton & the British Blues Boom, 1965-1970 [Jawbone]

This stunning new book by provides a picturesque history of the British blues scene, beginning from the point at which Clapton leaves the Yardbirds and begins his 15-month stint with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. What unfolds in the 352 pages starts with virtually a day-to-day account of the band's gigs during and after the Clapton era (with incredible detail about those shows and other events-including Clapton's sojourn to Greece in '65 to moonlight with the Glands and the Greek band, the Juniors). Following the formation of Cream in June 1966 (which spawns the introduction of Peter Green in Mayall's group), Clapton's new band quickly becomes the hottest news in Britain, and the book painstakingly teases out an incredible wealth of information on the events surrounding Cream's meteoric rise to the top. Set lists, reviews, road stories, recording session notes, interviews, etc.-it's all there in lavish detail, right up to Cream's demise in December 1968.

Long before we reach that point, however, we're brought up to speed with the creation and subsequent events surrounding the beginning of Fleetwood Mac, whose star guitarist is, of course, Peter Green. Green's departure from the Bluesbreakers opened the door for a teenaged Mick Taylor to join Mayall's band, and there's much to read here about his tenure in that group, as well as his induction and glory years with the Rolling Stones. Clapton's work with Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie, and Derek & the Dominos is also given plenty of ink in these pages, and let's not forget that throughout the entire book are amazing photos that coincide with all of the aforementioned events-particularly many cool images of Clapton, Green, and Taylor with their guitars and amps. You also get detailed equipment lists for the three guitarists, lists of concert dates/venues and radio and TV appearances, and extensive documentation of recording-session dates and locations for all the bands. If you're into vintage British blues and rock, you need to add this masterpiece to your collection.
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