What does it sound like?:
This record pretty much follows the template of Eric’s solo records on the 70s;
A few old blues standards by the likes of Robert Johnson and Skip James – check
A handful of pleasant but insipid self penned tunes – check
A JJ Cale song or two – check
A song or two by esteemed peers (Paul Brady and Bob Dylan here) – check
There are also a couple of songs from the thirties which frankly the album would be better without.
Listen, there isn’t anything earth shattering here, and if you don’t own any Clapton records there really wouldn’t be much point buying this over, say, 461 Ocean Boulevard or There’s One in Every Crowd. But, do you know, I’m really enjoying it. At least Clapton sounds as if he’s really made an effect here. His voice and playing are in good shape, he has Glyn Johns behind the desk, the artwork is pretty handsome and includes a portrait of EC by Peter Blake, and the band is terrific. He has brought in the likes of Henry Spinetti, Paul Carrack, Chris Stainton, and Andy Fairweather-Low. Were Carlsberg to do a ‘We don’t do pub blues bands, but if we did…’ ad, these guys would fit the bill.
His own songs are pretty weak, but the versions of I Dreamed I Saw St Augustine ( vaguely Cajun in style, but it’s better than the old reggae Knockin On Heavens Door) and Brady’s I Will Be There are nicely done and perhaps the strongest tracks here. Robert Johnson’s Stones in my Passway is the pick of the blues tracks, and I’ll Be Alright, which is basically an alternative version of We Shall Overcome is lovely.
I’m damning with faint praise I know. But this is an enjoyable listen, and fair play to Clapton and Johns, neither of whom needs to still bother, for a decent job well done.
What does it all *mean*?
Nothing very much. It’s basically a bunch of old blokes who’ve been round the block doing their job well, and sounding like they’re having a good time doing it.
Goes well with…
Whatever you’re doing – it’s nice stuff to have in the background, or as you’re driving the car.
Might suit people who like…
Eric in the 70s. That is, essentially, what this is. But that isn’t a bad thing.