Though blues rock does not really sound like your typical
blues music, the fundamentals do borrow from elements like the 12-bar blues, a
riff-oriented sound and extended boogie jams. Added to these are the classic ‘rock
and roll’ effects of the electric guitar, loud amplification and fast tempo,
and what you have are the super loud sounds of blues rock.
The essence of blues rock music
lies in the sounds created by the drum kit, the bass guitar and of course, the
electric guitar. A tube guitar amplifier or an overdrive effect is usually used
to amplify the sounds made by the electric guitar. Most blues rock bands use
two guitars simultaneously - while the lead guitar plays the melodies and
solos, the rhythm guitar takes care of the accompaniment riffs and chords.
During the 1950s, the bands used the upright bass, but the 1960s saw them using
the electric bass, since it made amplification easier. The piano and the Hammond organ are also
occasionally used, and the latter is amplified just like the electric guitar,
so that an overdrive effect is created. Blues rock compositions usually follow
the 12-bar blues format, but with an altered structure. The player follows a
specific chord progression with this, and what you have is music that makes the
amps bleed, just like your typical rock song. When playing solos, the lead
guitarist generally uses either the major or minor pentatonic scale. If you are looking for a classic example
of a blues rock song, pay close attention to Eric Clapton’s ‘Crossroads’.
Though the blues and rock have been closely linked
historically, the genre called blues rock gained prominence only during the
1960s. American guitarist Lonnie Mack is believed to have developed this
distinct guitar style in 1963, the same year he came out with a number of rock
guitar instrumentals that were deeply influenced by the blues. These include
the smash hit singles ‘Memphis’
(Billboard #5) and ‘Wham!’ (Billboard #24).
Noted music critic Piero Scaruffi states that the blues-rock
genre was born with the release of the album Bluesbreakers by John
Mayall in 1966. Scaruffi points out that it was the British bands who made
music aficionados take note of blues rock, and he gives credit for this to Fleetwood Mac, Savoy
Brown and Free, among others. Some of the American musicians considered
trend-setters in this genre are Canned Heat, Paul Butterfield, Cream, Johnny
Winter, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Blind
Faith, The Doors, Janis Joplin, to name a few.
Jeff Beck, a former member of The Yardbirds took both the
U.S and U.K by storm when he formed The Jeff Beck Group and introduced the
heavy rock effect on blues rock. Another
former The Yardbirds member Jimmy Page formed Led Zeppelin, a group that
dominated the blues rock scene in the early 1970s. Other prominent bands of
this genre at that time include names like The Who, AC/DC, Aerosmith, The Allman
Brothers Band, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
The early 1990s to 2000s saw a revival of the blues rock
genre, with many new musicians making their mark, like Gary Moore, The White
Stripes, Them Crooked Vultures, The Dead Weather, The Black Crowes, John Mayer,
Jeff Healey, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, The Black Keys, Joe Bonamassa and
Blues Rock Backing Tracks on BluesBackingTracks.com
The Blues Rock Backing Tracks found here are in the style of the bands mentioned above and will get you playing blues guitar (or whatever instrument you use to play the blues!) in a blues rock style - enjoy! And let me know if there are any tracks you'd like to see made into 20 minute blues rock backing tracks!