Live Performance of the Week: “Yer Blues” by The Dirty Mac

Most supergroups have short lifespans, not lasting beyond a couple albums. This particular ensemble wasn’t together for more than five minutes.

The 1968 TV special, The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, brings together members from four of Britain’s top rock bands: Cream’s Eric Clapton on guitar, Jimi Hendrix Experience’s Mitch Mitchell on drums, and the Stones’ own Keith Richards on bass, all under the direction of John Lennon, who at this time was a Beatle by contract only. Lennon wrote and recorded “Yer Blues” for the recently released White Album, a disjointed double album featuring mainly solo compositions from the four Liverpudlians. Lennon’s disinterest in the Beatle identity is clear here; his debut of a new song with an all-star lineup of guest musicians does little to mask John’s apparent refusal to perform with his bandmates.

If anything, he was more fed up with the entire music scene. “Yer Blues” mocks what Lennon saw as the cheap output of the multitude of white British bluesmen in the late 60s, at least in relation to the authentic works of black artists in the earlier part of the centry. Even his new group’s name, The Dirty Mac, takes a jab at Fleetwood Mac, which established itself as one of the premier blues groups at the time, long before it would sell out with the pop travesties of “Gypsy” or “Don’t Stop.”

Still, “Yer Blues” is better as a standalone work than a parody of blues imitators. It’s angry Lennon at his finest, along with many of his closest musical friends. Best of all, he gets through the entire song without a Yoko Ono interlude. Enjoy.

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