In the late 50s, influenced by American musicians, the British started to play Blues music, and they did it very well ! Even though the context was different (no cotton fields or huge cities), the passion was the same, and the British Blues artistic “movement” was born, with its most important guitarists: Eric Clapton -listen to Cream (Sunshine of your love)
where you can feel a mature approach to blues music, a wonderful and classic riff, made of single notes and double stops- and a wonderful guitar tone. Cream were blues, but also a band who clashed exotic psichedelia and beat music :I feel free is a song full of dreamy, optimistic moods and tunes vaguely resembling Ravel’s Bolero –
another example of psichedelia moods mixed with blues is Strange brew-vocals remind me of the Beatles of the last years…by the way, even though the Beatles are not considered part of the British Blues Revival movement, I would like to post a few songs that contain blues references (even if very small) Can’t buy me love ‘s verses and chords are somehow connected to the blues standard, plus the guitar solo is obviously rockabilly-oriented
and Drive my car has got the same ideas: bluesy verses, and a more melodic and catchy chorus (more blues/jazz oriented, in the chord changes harmony) with a bluesy guitar solo
But let’s go back to British blues musicians : John Mayall, for example, is probably the most typical artist of this genre: listen to the psichedelic California and The Laws Must Change (The Turning Point).
And let’s not forget Tony Mc Phee– one of the first British guitarists to be important for this blues revival/movement
Other great guitarists who were emerging during the “Swinging London” era, were Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page, originally a guitar duo in the Yardbirds– they both had wonderful careers, with Jeff Beck being more innovative and technical , and Page being more traditional blues-influenced, and with a heavy sound (that later was called Hard Rock) listen to the fast pentatonic runs (triplets) in Good times bad times , or since I’ve been lovin’ you– and the wonderful, passionate guitar intro …
And how can I forget Jimi Hendrix, of course…I wouldn’t consider him a blues guitarist, but a blues, rock, psichedelic and funky guitarist, one who clashed a lot of influences in one and made something very explosive and new for that era (late 60s). Listen to Foxy lady with its sustained notes and amazing guitar work (bendings, vibratos, phrasing, everything)
Now listen to Purple haze with its intro, its famous “Hendrix chord”- something like an Em(9#) which is a chord that contains both the minor and the major third- that is the first in a serie of “Em-G-A” progression (a rhtyhm and blues classic pattern) – Hendrix is very funky as a rhythmic guitarist…and very psichedelic and rock as a soloist…and I say no more!
The Rolling Stones are considered very blues-influenced, since the first albums:here’s a clear example in their song Good times bad times where the sound is made mainly by acoustic guitars and harmonica…or Grown up wrong with its delta blues guitar style both in the riff and in the solo. And even in a typical “beat” song like The last time Keith Richards can’t resist the temptation to play a bluesy solo (country-oriented,just a little bit)
British Hard Rock (70s)
I’ve already talked about Led Zeppelin and their blues influence…so now it’s time to listen to another classic, great band who were in part blues, in part neo classical …I’m talking about one of the greatest band in Rock history: Deep Purple…
With their original guitarist Ritchie Blackmore, they created a fresh, new sound that is considered a milestone in Rock, and influential on hundreds of bands born after them…
Blackmore is known for the use of pentatonic mixed with minor scales, with some jazzy influences (that came from listening to Wes Montgomery and other great jazz guitarists in his youth) plus a great, original and eccentric phrasing
Originally a blues band, Tony Iommi & friends are considered one of the three bands more influencial for the beginning of Hard Rock and Heavy Metal (being Purple and Led Zeppelin the other 2, of course) . Early songs like Fairies wear boots take the British Blues one step ahead, with all that distortion that hypnotizes the audience (and to be honest, even now, in 2016, it’s got the same effect on me) Or like this song : The wizard – where an harmonica wonderfully interacts with Iommi’s hard riffs- and pentatonic fills…
More of a blues band with a hard sound, at the beginning and for the first albums, Whitesnake are former Deep Purple’s singer David Coverdale’s creation…
and you will immediately brought back to those years of smokey clubs, big cities, late nights and soul music (they are English, but they sound very American)
American Street Rock /Hard Rock
Altough in the 70s Hard Rock ‘s tempos begin to accelerate, and this genre is a crossover of blues, rock n roll and the new distorted sounds (personally I think the early albums are similar to some songs by Kiss) this style take the blues typical licks/riffs and play them speeded-up, like in this song Walkin the dog– that- to me, is already an example of a very early “glam-metal” or something like that (call it street rock or whatever you like) .
If you listen to this Rock masterpiece , the Toyz in the attic album , you will find a lot of influence of blues, but also Country, Rock n Roll and American Roots music, like Folk music -even if it’s really just a little bit -Joe Perry delivers fluid solos with a liquid sound and precise timing. A few tracks of this album are really milestones- like the title-track and of course “walk this way“, a song that was covered years later by the Hip Hop band Run DMC .
Kiss had some blues influence, especially Ace Frehley with all his bendings, post-Page licks and phrasing, and attitude in general – that was a mix of street life, rock n roll, rhythm and blues melodies (listen, for example, to the beautiful and soulful Nothing to lose, or a Rock n Roll song like Strutter is full of pentatonic phrasing, bendings, a simple but effective guitar solo (Ace was very basic as a guitarist, but he really played with soul and passion) – another song has got , apart from the RnR rhythm guitar, a little lick in the chorus, that is blues influenced, listen: Room Service…
Australian Hard Rock
Their cover version of Baby please don’t go is pure energy. Both Angus Young and Bon Scott were very blues influenced. Angus is one of the most blues influenced guitarists playing in a Rock band in the seventies…and of course The Jack, with its rhythmic pattern of 5th and 6th intervals, plus the amazing guitar solo starting with that Major pentatonic lick. Another typical element of the Young Brothers’ playing is the use of chords that are very simple and can be played in the first position: listen to Highway to Hell, a song that features also a chord of D with the F sharp bass..and a great solo that opens with rock n roll licks (bending that ends with double stops on the first strings)
Back in Black is more Rock than blues, at least in the sound, but it features those blues/pentatonic notes in the riff, that remind us of their musical background…plus it has got a wonderful, energetic guitar solo, typical of Angus Young’ style, who plays with energy and passion in every song…