Sunday, February 01, 2015

Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse: I Want to Know

Who were the first supergroup? Cream? Blind Faith? Or was it Eric Clapton and the Powerhouse?

They were a studio project that recorded just three tracks for What's Shakin', a compilation issued by Elektra Records to cash in on some unreleased tracks by groups like the Lovin' Spoonful and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

However, there was not enough material to fill two sides. As the record's producer Joe Boyd recalls:
"I suggested that we include an English blues band in the project. Paul Jones came to see me at Elektra and I told him of my difficulty in finding an unsigned blues band for the project. He suggested putting together an all-star group, and we made out the lineup together in my office."
The band Jones put together makes impressive reading: Steve Winwood (vocals), Eric Clapton (guitar), Jack Bruce (bass), Ben Palmer (piano), Pete York (drums). Jones himself played the harmonica.

Jones' original plan was to have Ginger Baker on drums. This caused some consternation, as Baker, Clapton and Bruce were secretly putting Cream together at the time and wondered if word had got out. As it happened, Baker could not be involved so Pete York from the Spencer Davis Group played instead.

There were also some problems with people being signed to other labels. So Winwood was billed on the record as Steve Anglo and this song was credited to Paul Jones' wife Sheila McLeod, though Jones has written it.

I Want to Know features Steve Winwood and Jack Bruce duetting on vocals. Both were musical prodigies who received classical tuition but were told early on that they could not play jazz and the blues as well. Both decided to give up the classics.

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