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STEPPIN' OUT (1966) by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers

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Published on Nov 7, 2009

This is my second video of Eric Clapton playing with John Mayall's Blues Breakers (see also 'Hideaway' on my channel page). Like that one, this is also an instrumental, and was originally performed by Memphis Slim and written by James Bracken. Steppin' Out was from the 1966 album by John Mayall's Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton as lead guitarist. It is often referred to as The Beano album because the photograph on the album cover shows Clapton reading The Beano, a well-known British children's comic. Apart from being one of the most overall influential albums in blues-rock history, it was likely the first time anyone had heard a Gibson Les Paul guitar through an overdriven Marshall amplifier; this unique sound would become particularly influential.

Eric Clapton told Guitar Player magazine that the 1960 Les Paul Standard he played on Blues Breakers was "the best Les Paul I ever had... just a regular sunburst Les Paul that I bought in one of the shops in London right after I'd seen Freddie King's album cover of Let's Hide Away And Dance Away, where he's playing a gold-top. It had humbuckers and was almost brand new -- original case with that lovely purple velvet lining. Just magnificent. I never really found one as good as that. I do miss that one." According to Clapton lore, his sacred 1960 was purchased in Lew Davis' guitar shop on Charing Cross Road in London in 1965.

According to the most widely accepted story, Eric Clapton wanted an amp that would fit in the boot of his car, so he asked Jim Marshall (whose store in London he frequented) to make him a combo amp powerful enough to use on stage. According to Robb Lawrence's The Early Years of the Les Paul Legacy, Jim Marshall initially gave Clapton a Model 1961 with 4x10" speakers, which was soon replaced with a 2x12" Model 1962. Clapton used the combo amplifier with his 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard, allegedly in combination with a Dallas Rangemaster Treble Booster, which resulted in the creation of a texture of sound that would become regarded as iconic in the realm of blues oriented rock. (Update: I was reading an interview with Joe Bonamassa who said he doubted the Rangemaster was used as he was able to recreate the Beano sound using a '59 Les Paul plugged into the treble jack of a real '66 Marshall Bluesbreaker type combo without one. He tried a couple of Rangemasters but didn't think they were part of the sound, although he acknowledged he could be wrong. Unless Clapton says something, we will probably never know with certainty).

The Bluesbreakers included John Mayall on harmonica, keyboards and a majority of the vocals, John McVie on bass, Hughie Flint on drums. On some songs, including this one, a horn section was featured, including John Almond, Alan Skidmore and Derek Healey, (misspelt on the sleeve as Dennis Healey). In 2003, the album was ranked number 195 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. (Much of the above info was adapted from Wikipedia).

There is no video for this song, so I have created my own. Comments are welcome, but please no 'my guitarist is better than your guitarist'.

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