Editor’s note: In this recurring column, music writer Chris Duncan suggests two albums to listen to this week. Have a suggestion? Send a tweet to @chr_dunc, and your pick might appear in next week’s article.
Bluesbreakers - John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers
In a quiet underground train station in mid-1960s Islington, London, a revolution began with a can of spray paint. With little thought, an anonymous graffiti artist wrote “Clapton is God.” Quickly, the phrase spread, and soon all around London people heard of blues guitarist Eric Clapton.
It was during a stint with John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers that people discovered Clapton’s genius. Clapton was fresh off of his time with the Yardbirds, a legendary British rock band that included the likes of Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. Before Clapton went on to form Cream, a British psychedelic rock group, he first revealed his talent with an electric guitar on Bluesbreakers.
The entire album is a culmination of Clapton’s success in songwriting and uncompromising live performances with John Mayall, the leader of the Bluesbreakers. Producer Mike Vernon kept the record simple and pure in a time where most British record labels wouldn’t tough a group like the Bluesbreakers. Although Clapton’s guitar dominates the record, Mayall’s organ playing along with Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie on bass and Hughie Flint on the drums, provide the intensity to take this album to the next level.
Revolutionary Vol. 2 - Immortal Technique
Rap has always been a genre filled with controversy over its message toward kids, use of explicit words and challenging topics, but no one rapper exemplifies this as well as Immortal Technique. With rhyming capabilities and flow that few rappers equal, IT's Revolutionary Vol. 2 attempts to challenge listeners more than ever.
Born in South America, the rapper was sent to jail for a year after an altercation with a white man, making his tough thug style feel more authentic than most rappers’. His positions are radical, but he stays believable enough to create lessons for the listener.
No one is safe when it comes to the subjects of IT’s music. He targets Fox News, so-called activists who hid behind computers and any and all critics. He raps about almost anything he believes in or has experienced — whether it’s his dark hometown, the nature of an artist, the media or individual views of people involved in illegal drug sale and prevention. At points, his style sounds a bit ridiculous, but almost every bar on this album is an ode to his personal history.