Eric Clapton “Early Years” Compilation Albums

Yardbirds - London 1963

Eric Clapton “Early Years” Compilation Albums

A myriad of LPs, cassette tapes and CDs have been issued over the years by labels around the world that package tracks recorded by Eric Clapton between 1963 and 1966. These are not bootlegs. These songs are inexpensive to license and are constantly repacked under different titles. The CDs can often be found in discount stores for as little as $5 (U.S.). However, if the CDs are manufactured in Japan for example and sold in England or America, they are marketed as an “imported CD” and may be very expensive ($25 or more in America). The CDs are usually of inferior sound quality and are often mastered from vinyl records and not the original master tapes.

These compilation albums are made up of recordings Eric Clapton made with The Yardbirds, Sonny Boy Williamson, John Mayall and at Jimmy Page’s home studio in a lineup called The Powerhouse in the early to mid-1960s. Some tracks are live recordings. A few tracks have been released in better quality on major label releases including Shapes Of Things, Crossroads, John Mayall’s Primal Solos and the two-disc, The Yardbirds Ultimate.

Although these recordings are often not of the best sound quality, they are historically important in terms of Eric Clapton’s development as guitarist. It is also interesting to hear how some of these songs have evolved in his repertoire over the years.

If you are going to collect these recordings, a good rule of thumb is to look for releases on the Castle label. Castle’s reissues are of better quality as they use the source tapes. Castle now owns the Immediate Record label catalog, which originally released three of the Mayall tracks: “I’m You’re Witchdoctor,” “Telephone Blues,” and “On Top Of The World.” Immediate Records also originally released the seven Eric Clapton / Jimmy Page guitar instrumentals. They are “Snake Drive,” “Tribute To Elmore,” “West Coast Idea,” “Freight Loader,” “Draggin’ My Tail,” “Choker,” and “Miles Road.”

The Eric Clapton "early years" songs that are continually being repackaged are:

“23 Hours Too Long”
“A Certain Girl”
“Baby Don’t Worry”
“Bernard Jenkins”
“Big Boss Man”
“Boom Boom”
“Bye Bye Bird”
“Draggin’ My Tail”
“Early In The Morning”
“Eric’s Blues”
“Evil Hearted You”
“Evil Hearted Woman-Goodbye Baby-Good Morning Little Schoolgirl-Stand Up”
“Five Long Years”
“For Your Love”
“Freight Loader”
“Got Love If You Want It”
“Good Morning Little Schoolgirl”
“Got To Hurry”
“Highway 49”
“Honey In Your Hips”
“I Ain’t Got You”
“I Don’t Care No More”
“I Wish You Would”
“I’m A Man”
“I’m Your Witchdoctor”
“L.A. Breakdown”
“Let It Rock”
“Little Red Rooster”
“Lonely Years”
“Miles Road”
“On Top Of The World”
“Out On The Water Coast”
“Pounds & Stomps”
“Putty In Your Hands”
“She’s So Respectable”
“Smokestack Lightning”
“Snake Drive”
“Steeled Blues”
“Still I’m Sad”
“Stormy Monday”
“Stroll On”
“Sweet Music”
“Take It Easy Baby”
“Talkin’ About You”
“Telephone Blues”
“The First Time I Met The Blues”
“Too Much Monkey Business”
“Tribute To Elmore”
“Wang Dang Doodle”
“West Coast Idea”
“Who Do You Love”
“You Can’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover”

It is virtually impossible to maintain an accurate and complete list of all the CDs that collect these songs. Here is a sampling of some of the titles you may come across:

The Survivor
The Early Clapton Collection
EC & Friends: The Early Years
Early Clapton 1988
Eric Clapton & The The Yardbirds – Rarities
Early Stages
Blues Works 1963 – 1965
UK Blues
The Blues Years
Eric Clapton With The Yardbirds & Jimmy Page
White Boy Blues
Big Boss Man
The Yardbirds / London 1963
Strictly The Blues
The Great Blues Sessions

In 1998, the compilation Eric Clapton & Friends attempted to collect the great majority of this material in a three-CD set. Numerous tracks are credited to Eric Clapton although he does not play on them. Also, the tracks have drum, synthesizer and horn overdubs from a later date than the original recordings.

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