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EC Was Here...,
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This review is from: Eric Clapton - Sessions for Robert Johnson (DVD)
Clapton finally decided to come to terms with what many of his fans have always wanted, a pure Robert Johnson tribute. Since the beginning we Clapton fans have know of his passion for RJ's 29 songs. Sure he has dabbled over the years even sprinkling many of RJ's songs on various albums. Here it is, finally, the release we have been waiting for. Purists might hate it. Who cares? EC isn't going to try to be someone he's not. He is just playing his art from the heart driven by a passion for RJ's music. Got a problem with that? Then stay away. All others can just sit back, relax, and enjoy a masterful player doing what he does best. Clapton's glowing admiration of RJ's music is endearing. Clapton and the band retrace Robert Johnson's studio recording footsteps from 1936 and 1937 even going back to some of the same places Johnson recorded.
The DVD starts off with a nice low-key electric studio session on March 15, 2004 in Checkendon, England with some top notch musicians including the very talented Doyle Bramhall II (Papa Bramhall was Stevie Ray Vaughan's song writing partner and vocal influence) on supporting rhythm, lead, and slide guitar. Peppered throughout the DVD are interviews with Clapton on the deep influence Robert Johnson's music had on him, his career, and many of his musician friends. Also included are Robert Johnson facts, images of the few documents he left behind, and other tidbits most knowledgeable blues fans already know. Session II was recorded on June 2, 2004 in Irving, TX on a funky sound stage with a cloudy sky backdrop. The visual is juxtaposed by the edgy three song session. The band is loose and Clapton and Bramhall offer up a nice meaty helping of blues. Clapton doesn't have any of his Crash Strats for this session but is using what looks to be a standard Blackie-like strat with noiseless pickups. Session III June 3, 2004 in Dallas, TX at 508 Park Avenue, the very place Johnson recorded his 1937 sessions and now abandon but still in good shape. It is a reverent all acoustic affair with Clapton and Bramhall offering up some delightful Johnson interpretations in "Terraplane Blues," "Hell Hound On My Trail," and "Love In Vain." Session IV takes place in the town of my birth, Santa Monica, CA on August 14, 2004. It is a solo effort with Clapton and a framed picture of Robert Johnson perched close by on a desk top. Clapton pays homage to his mentor with a great combination of style, veneration, and fun that is just wonderful to see and hear.
Some may be bothered by the "rehearsal" look, feel, and cadence of the DVD. But that is essentially what it was. They were not making a music video, they were making a CD and captured the sessions on a digital recorder for all of us to enjoy. Clapton doesn't cover the entire Johnson songbook, but most of are here. There are a couple of bonus tracks that tick the song tally up to 17 mark on the DVD ("Love In Vain," quite possibly Johnson's best song, gets a repeat performance). There is also some behind-the-scenes footage which isn't all that interesting on the DVD. The DVD runs near two hours with the CD at about an hour. Excellent sound quality (is that the same Alan Douglas who ruined most of Hendrix's posthumously released albums? Hmmmmm...)
Bottom line: This is a great package of music for EC & RJ fans. You get a great DVD and a CD all in one for a decent price.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 31, 2011 8:21:38 PM PST
How is an electric band covering Johnson (a solo acoustic artist) a "pure tribute"?
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 4, 2011 9:42:45 PM PST
political idiot says:
Good point, I was referring to the sole focus on Robert Johnson songs for one album.
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