I Still Do
Bushbranch Records/Surfdog Records
Slowhand Rides Again Along The Blues Highway.
Eric Clapton eh? WOW; he’s been a mighty big part of my musical journey over the last 45 years. Without playing ‘Top Trumps’ I guess the first time I heard him play would be around 1971/2 when I started ‘borrowing’ my brothers ‘grown up’ LP’s aged about 13; and Goodbye Cream was definitely one of the first I played and enjoyed.
Subsequently 5 Live Yardbirds is my favourite Live album of all time; and Layla the only Double LP worthy of two discs; plus when 461 Ocean Boulevard came out; I nearly wore my copy out, it got played that much.
But that was all a very long time ago; and a lot of things have changed for both of us; and his last 10 (or more) albums have been received with less than flattering praise, so I approached this with caution last week.
The title of the opening track Alabama Woman Blues intrigued me; and yeehaw….this dirty Country Blues, with enough slide guitar to scare to an alligator is rather damn fine, so I settled back and let the Maestro entertain me for the next couple of hours.
Can’t Let You Do It, which follows slip, slides seamlessly back into JJ Cale territory; with some neat guitar interplay for the first minute or so; then Eric purrs the words to a bittersweet love story as only he (and JJ Cale) can do.
OK; there’s no surprise Hip-Hop or Grime tracks here; why should there be and who would want them anyway, apart from Hipster London critics; this is Eric Clapton for Gods Sake and there are more than enough songs like Catch The Blues and the slow-handed Bluesy drawl of Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day; to satisfy existing Clapton and Blues Music fans from dawn to dusk.
Eric sort of pours his heart out to the critics and fans alike on the smouldering Spiral; with the opening lines ‘You Don’t know how much this means/to have this music in me/I just keep playing these Blues.’ Damn Right Eric’s still got the Blues!
While most songs are self-penned (and he can still write a good song) there are a couple of covers here; of which I love this slightly Cajun inspired version of Dylan’s I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine; with it’s Accordion and keyboard thread complimenting some lovely soft guitar work.
While never breaking sweat, Clapton and friends take us back to our collective youth on the slow and heavy Cypress Grove (Skip James) which could easily be an out-take from some long lost Cream sessions; truly it’s that good….and cool.
But; for me the stand out track here; and one worthy of any future Clapton retrospective is the awesome I Will Be There, which is pure Classic Clapton; but who is Angelo Mysterioso on acoustic guitar and vocals? Surely not? It can’t be, can it? No….
Re-united with the legendary producer Glyn Johns for what is Clapton’s 23rd studio album, the old guitar-slinger can still show the new kids on the block how it’s done!
Released May 20th 2016