Eric Clapton & Friends, “The Breeze: An Appreciation of J. J. Cale”

Eric-Clapton-Friends_The-Breeze-JJ-CaleEric Clapton & Friends
The Breeze: An Appreciation of J. J. Cale
BUSHBRANCH/SURFDOG
5/10

At this point in Eric Clapton’s career, paying tribute to his late longtime pal J. J. Cale seems like a given. The legendary, albeit underrated, bluesman has provided Clapton with two of his biggest hits: the chart-topping “Cocaine” and live favorite “After Midnight.” What better way for Clapton to pay his respects to a man who made a lasting impact on ol’ Slowhand than being at the helm of a covers album? Though he’s paid tribute to Robert Johnson in the past, there’s a freshness to this offering that particularly differentiates Clapton from other musicians wanting to show their appreciation to influential forefathers. Enlisting the help of his famous musician friends, Clapton ensures that Cale’s legacy is not only safe, but is understood by later generations of guitar heroes. Beginning with the twangy “They Call Me the Breeze,” this compilation can be interpreted as Blues 101. There are plenty of highlights, including the laid-back grooves of “Rock and Roll Records” (which features Tom Petty’s inimitable voice), Mark Knopfler’s signature plucking and brooding vocals on “Someday,” and the quintessential Southern sound that Willie Nelson provides on “Songbird.” The younger generation is well represented with John Mayer and Derek Trucks helping Clapton give Cale the sendoff he deserves.

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