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John Mayall: Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton, and; The Best Of (As It All Began)

Ian MacDonald, Uncut, August 1998

WANT TO know what the fuss was all about? Drop the old laser-beam on track 21, the stereo version of 'Have You Heard?', John Mayall's anguished plaint about the mysterious Christine, his girlfriend of the time (April, 1966). Then wait for Clapton. If you know a fiercer, more desperate opening to a guitar solo (sound, feeling, and structure as a unity), feel free to nominate it. That he couldn't quite sustain this level throughout the whole slow 24-bar chorus is no surprise – even Buddy Guy would have been pushed at this pitch – but the searing impact of that moment, as incendiary now as it was 32 years ago, is enough to explain why this album charted at Number Six in the UK without the benefit of a hit single.

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