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Me and Mr. Johnson CD

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Audio CD, CD, March 30, 2004
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Eric Clapton has often stated that JJ Cale is one of the single most important figures in rock history, a sentiment echoed by many of his fellow musicians. Cale’s influence on Clapton was profound, and his influence on many more of today’s artists cannot be overstated. To honor JJ’s legacy, a year after his passing, Clapton gathered a group of like-minded friends and ... Read more in Amazon's Eric Clapton Store

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 30, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B0001HAHXW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (280 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,334 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. When You Got A Good Friend
2. Little Queen Of Spades
3. They're Red Hot
4. Me And The Devil Blues
5. Traveling Riverside Blues
6. Last Fair Deal Gone Down
7. Stop Breakin' Down Blues
8. Milkcow's Calf Blues
9. Kind Hearted Woman Blues
10. Come On In My Kitchen
11. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
12. Love In Vain
13. 32-20 Blues
14. Hell Hound On My Trail

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

On Me And Mr.Johnson, Eric Clapton covers 14 of the 29 songs Robert Johnson, the most mythic figure of the blues, wrote and recorded in his lifetime. For fans of deep blues,it doesn 't get any better than this. After the success of Clapton 's first two traditional blues albums -+1994 's Gram- my-winning triple-platinum, #1 pop From The Cradle, and 2000 's Grammy-winning, double-platinum,#3-charting Riding With The King collaboration with B.B.King -+Me And Mr.Johnson finds Clapton once more at the crossroads of blues and rock.

It's impossible to overemphasize the importance of singer-guitarist-songwriter Robert Johnson's contribution to blues music. The same can be said of Eric Clapton, one of Mr. Johnson's most dedicated interpreters. From his work with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to Cream and beyond, Clapton has arguably attracted more widespread attention to Johnson's music than any other living musician. A decade after his all-blues From the Cradle (which included no Johnson material), Clapton jumps into the icon's catalog with both feet by covering 14 Johnson tunes. With a stripped-down veteran band that includes such longtime associates as drummer Steve Gadd, keyboardist Billy Preston, and harmonica ace Jerry Portnoy, the guitarist attacks these songs with passion, intelligence, and a refreshing lack of blues-rock pretense. From the upbeat jump of "32-20 Blues" and "They're Red Hot" to the slower, grinding "Little Queen of Spades" and "Milkcow's Calf Blues," Clapton acquits himself well, eschewing his slicker inclinations with arrangements that underscore Johnson's rawest tendencies--although perhaps he doesn't seem sufficiently terrified when walking with Lucifer on "Me and the Devil Blues." Still, this is a successful and admirable return to his roots, one that will hopefully introduce an even larger audience to Johnson's seminal work. --Hal Horowitz

Customer Reviews

On "Me & Mr. Johnson", Eric Clapton pays homage to one of his early influences, Robert Johnson.
The problem I have with this one is it just sounds way too slick and the songs seem to have no passion in them at all, to me it just sounds like a waste of time.
S. Miller
The song arrangements stay mostly faithful to the original recordings, but there are too many instruments on them.
Sir George Martini

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 132 people found the following review helpful By Riccardo Pelizzo on May 15, 2004
Format: Audio CD
When Clapton recorded and released his 'Unplugged' few years ago, he made wonderful covers of both Robert Johnson's Malted Milk and Walking Blues. The result was absolutely brilliant. I had not heard a more inspired, passionate,soulful Clapton in years.
I would say that the opposite is true of 'Me and Mr. Johnson'. Leaving aside why Clapton decided to record the 14 songs he chose instead of Rambling on My Mind, I'm a steady Rollin'Man, and so on; the record has a major problem.
There's no energy, there's no strength, there's no passion. If you listen to Robert Johnson's original recording they're phenomenlly powerful. In Clapton's rendition, those very same song almost put you to sleep.
Love in Vain is a perfect case in point. It is a very powerful song, one of those songs that strikes some chords inside you. Robert Johnson created that magic, the Rolling Stones were able to preserve that magic in their cover, but all the magic is lost with Clapton. Love in Vain is almost boring. Clapton is a great guitar player and great bluesman, but the arrangements he chose for this record are terrible. They take all the energy away from these great great songs. What a disaster.
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41 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Sir George Martini on August 19, 2004
Format: Audio CD
Eric Clapton has been introducing the "Blues" to new audiences for almost his entire life. Early in his career, he could take an obsure blues song like "Crossroads" and make it into a rock hit. A number of Robert Johnson's songs were recorded in the corner of a hotel room on ancient equipment. These harsh sounding, yet powerful performances can send chills up your spine. Sadly, "Me and Mr. Johnson" is just plain boring to listen to. The song arrangements stay mostly faithful to the original recordings, but there are too many instruments on them. The band contains some fine musicians, but they sound so polished and lifeless. Clapton's playing is competent as usual, but it lacks the enthusiam that used to set him apart from all his peers.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Docendo Discimus on May 15, 2004
Format: Audio CD
I know that a lot of listeners are prepared to receive this CD as the Second Coming. It is Eric Clapton playing Robert Johnson, after all. And others will be equally prepared to hate it on the same grounds.
But to me "Me And Mr Johnson" is neither very bad nor very good. Eric Clapton has brought in Muddy Waters' former harmonica player Jerry Portnoy, and the Beatles' organ player Billy Preston, and he himself plays excellent slide guitar on a couple of tracks, including a very good rendition of "Traveling Riverside Blues". Still, the overall impression is quite bland.

Staying away from songs like "Sweet Home Chicago" and "I Believe I'll Dust My Broom", which have been covered about a million times, Clapton focuses on somewhat lesser-known songs instead.
The arrangements are mostly acoustic, with some electric numbers thrown in for good measure, but almost every song is recorded using a full band which includes drums, keyboards, and two or three guitars. Whether or not you consider that an improvement is a matter of taste, I suppose...a few of the arrangements are certainly too cluttered for my taste.

Highlights include the aforementioned "Traveling Riverside Blues", a great, acoustic "Come On In My Kitchen", played in traditional country blues fashion, and an excellent "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day", one of only a few songs which really manage to get that deep, swinging blues groove going.
And the rest is not excactly horrible, but considering how good Clapton's last pure blues album, "From The Cradle", was, "Me And Mr Johnson" is a disappointment. And the sound is surprisingly's flat and dull, certainly not what you would expect from a 2004 release. Or maybe mine is a Monday pressing.
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By R. Weinstock VINE VOICE on April 11, 2004
Format: Audio CD
With all the hoolpa this cd has received, one is atonsihed by the absolute nonsense of some of the rock critics who rave about this. Much of this collection of performances of songs that Robert Johnson recorded is on the level of a bar band doing Robert Johnson. None of Clapton's renditions of these songs match those by Robert Lockwood, Johnny Shines, Honeyboy Edwards, Big Joe Williams, Junior Wells, Eddie Taylor, Boyd Gilmore, Muddy Waters and others who have taken Johnson's songs and produced recordings that are more passionately and personally performed. Clapton is too reverent to these songs and the lyrics which is strange for a homage to Johnson whose own work adapted and transformed his contemporaries music as Elijah Wald details in his recent book. Check out Leroy Carr's In the Evening before listening to Robert Johnson's Love in Vain and Clapton's rendition pales compared to the Stones' cover of it three decades ago. Both Junior Wells and Eddie Taylor had standout recordings of Stop Breakin' Down that makes Clapton's rendition here sound not very distinguished. Call Clapton a rock guitar god all you want and a great popularizer of the blues, but when you have assimilated not simply Johnson's music but also the great bluesmen of the past fifty years, than Clapton's achievement is clearly overstated. One other point was that I was not enamored by the studio band. There are some great players (and Mr. Portnoy is a great harp player), but the rhythm section does not swing and they sound second rate comapred to some of the classic Chicago bands of the sixties and seventies.
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