Sunday, August 3, 2014
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: ERIC CLAPTON & FRIENDS -- THE BREEZE AN APPRECIATION OF J.J. CALE
Nobody was a bigger Cale fan than Eric Clapton, so its fitting he leads the tribute recording. Really, it's a Clapton album with guest stars in everything but name only. And it's a whole lot better than your usual Clapton disc too. Much love went into the recording, and Clapton has been an astute student of the laid-back master over the years.
In case you didn't know, Clapton discovered Cale's Tulsa style in the 70's when he was looking to back off the guitar hero stuff. His covers of After Midnight and Cocaine made Cale a small fortune, but he kept out of the limelight for the most part, quite happily. Still, he had a ton of admirers, and Clapton wasn't the only famous name. Joining him here are Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Derek Trucks, Willie Nelson, John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II, David Lindley, Albert Lee and more. That's a lot of six-string firepower.
Funny thing; all the major players end up using the Cale style, they love it so much. Even Knopfler, who always sounds exactly like himself, adapts a little. And it's great. Wisely Clapton passed on re-making the stuff he'd done before, instead doing some lesser-known, and even three previously un-recorded numbers. They are completely obscure though; Lynyrd Skynyrd fans will know Call Me The Breeze, and Santana covered The Sensitive Kind. There's a beautiful version of Magnolia featuring John Mayer, that comes from Cale's 1972 debut, Naturally, which is surely one of the most underrated albums ever.
Clapton's been granted full access to Cale's unreleased music, and he's already proven a good and generous stewart. Cale's widow, Christine Lakeland, appears on vocals and guitar, as does his bandmate Don White. There are many more demos according to Clapton, and he hopes more original Cale versions will come out soon.