When ex-Impressions leader Jerry Butler joined forces with Philadelphia writer-producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff, soul music history was made. There's not a clinker on these two records; that they hit #29 and #41 on the pop charts, respectively, each with a host of pop and R&B hit singles, is testament to their widespread appeal. Jerry, currently the Commissioner of Cook County, has graciously lent copious quotes to Gene Sculatti's notes on our exclusive Collectors' Choice Music release…these two albums belong in every library.
This remastered release features both mono and stereo versions of each cut, and the differences are astounding. 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.
The Real Folk Blues series on Chess wasn't really folk, but titled that way, perhaps to gain the attention of young white listeners who had started to get turned on to the blues during the 1960s folk revival. And the Howlin' Wolf volumes in the series were not particularly more folk-oriented than his other Chess recordings, but more or less arbitrary selections of tracks that he'd done from the mid-'50s to the mid-'60s. It's thus also arbitrary to do a two-fer reissue of his The Real Folk Blues and More Real Folk Blues, combined here onto a single disc. That doesn't mean, though, that this isn't very good and sometimes great electric blues music. The Real Folk Blues, with tracks from 1956 to 1965, is by far the more modern of the pair in arrangements, and has a good share of classics: "Killing Floor," "Sittin' on Top of the World," "Built for Comfort," "Tail Dragger," and "Three Hundred Pounds of Joy".