JJ Cale & Eric Clapton - The Road to Escondido
November 17, 2006

I’m writing this review cooped in a corner of my room with all the windows shut. It’s the usual Subang Jaya rainstorm out there and with the headphones on, all I can hear at the moment is the music of JJ Cale and Eric Clapton’s The Road to Escondido with the storm’s thump at certain interstitials. Interestingly, it is quite a delightful way of enjoying the album.

I’ve never really heard much of Cale’s materials and to be honest, Clapton’s cover of After Midnight and Cocaine was the closest I ever got to his music. Nonetheless, those two sufficed in convincing me that JJ Cale is a brilliant songwriter. But I never got to venture out to his domain, which some claim to blend the sounds of Blues, Jazz and Country. I was a bit preoccupied with the Blues exclusively, apparently. So Escondido, being the result of a collaborative effort between Cale and Clapton, paved the right route for me to discovering his music.

When I first heard about the album, I had the idea of it being another one of Clapton’s many ‘experiments’. He’s been known to make a few attempts on other types of music, venturing out of the Blues. There was some Reggae in I Shot the Sheriff and Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, a taste of R&B with Babyface in Change the World, a soulful take on Ballad in Tears in Heaven and Wonderful Tonight and let’s not forget his trial at Pop in the whole of Pilgrim; naming some of the many Clapton’s hits and misses at undertaking other musical endeavors.

In an interview, Clapton gave a fascinating anecdote on the beginning of the album’s making. It seems that he talked to Cale at the Crossroads Guitar Festival some two years ago about working together on a new album. Just when he least expected, Cale agreed upon the idea and started writing some songs for the album. They got together in the studio and Cale did most of the producing, while singing together with Clapton in most of the tracks. Towards the end of the process, Clapton reflected upon the idea of not having only his name on the album cover. It was not right, it seemed to make the album as Eric Clapton’s with the songwriting, production and performance in it being done together with JJ Cale. After much contemplation, Cale finally agreed on naming the album JJ Cale & Eric Clapton – The Road to Escondido. Not too surprising considering the history of Clapton and his Blues contemporaries’ humility.

As a whole, the album features a very diverse and eclectic mixture of sounds. Taking into account the mutual understanding that Cale and Clapton had in singing most of the songs together, most of the vocal works doesn’t really sound like a combination of two voices. In other words, they sounded more like another person.

Covering up most of the rhythm parts was the late Billy Preston. This album, being the last contribution of his career, had certainly showcased the flair and class of his sound on the Hammond organ. Throughout the album, his fill-ins between the vocals and rhythmic chords were at their typical best; ear-grasping and captivating. I should also mention that the album also features the lineup of Doyle Bramhall II, Derek Trucks and John Mayer on guitar and Taj Mahal on the harp. Sweetness.

In describing the songs, I would simply label most of them as laidback. Looking at the album cover and title, the songs seem to complement well; in some way illustrating the whole production as a journey. And songs like Dead End Road, Anywhere the Wind Blows and Ride the River led me to believing so. Dead End Road, being a very upbeat ‘hoedown’ piece, complete with the violin and piano sections, gave me the idea of a huge hillbilly band playing alongside Cale and Clapton in the studio. Perhaps one of the most extreme detours that Clapton has taken in his many voyages to the other genres; and the only song in the album in which he escaped from his signature blues licks.

While most of the songs were simply written, Heads in Georgia has a pretty mysterious sense to it. Nevertheless, despite the various diversions Clapton has endured in the album, there’s Sporting Life Blues to keep him intact to his roots. There are still a few bits and pieces in the song that take you down to a barrelhouse down in the delta.

If the album is drawn on a piece of canvas, you’ll get a picture of El Paso, Texas; think Kill Bill. Not your everyday Clapton album but it fits damn well between those Clapton records on your CD rack.



du has! schweinsteiger!

notice aku tak reti buat u dua titik...

You know, you know, anywaySSS!

Z bukan zed la, tapi zeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

Mach es dir selber scheißkerl

wtf u guys..

badol guna online translator mana2 pun nak kecoh. porah...

Tits Badol kaler pink macam anime.

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Photography by Azalia Suhaimi

  • Asrif, b. 1983
  • Subang Jaya, Malaysia
  • asrifomar[@]gmail[.]com
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