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Sessions For Robert J. (CD + DVD)

4.6 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Audio CD, December 7, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

EVERY SUPERSTAR HAS A BEGINNING AND THIS IS THE BEGINNING OF THEIR STORY! THE MOST COMPREHENSIVE COLLECTION OF THEIR EARLY CAREERS! 38 INCREDIBLE TRACKS. ONE INCREDIBLE LOW PRICE! DIGITALLY REMASTERED.

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Early in this visual postscript to Clapton's Me and Mr. Johnson album, bassist Nathan East says "some stuff sounds better than the record." Actually, nearly all of it does--thanks to a few more months of digesting the material--as the camera follows the guitar legend and his band through warm-spirited rehearsals (including an incendiary "Kindhearted Woman Blues") for their 2004 tour. Clapton and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II are also captured at the Dallas hotel where Robert Johnson recorded in 1937. There they play acoustic duet versions of Johnson's "Hellhound on My Trail," "Me and the Devil Blues," "Love in Vain," and others that ring with passion and virtuosity as Bramhall's slide accents the clean, beautifully articulated lines of Clapton's six-sting interpretations and unrestrained singing. Clapton also plays a few solo numbers and expounds on his love for Johnson's music and the Delta bluesman's technique. But he speaks most eloquently through his playing, which says volumes about his affection for and deep commitment to this music. The CD features 11 songs from the DVD. --Ted Drozdowski

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Sweet Home Chicago
  2. Milkcow's Calf Blues
  3. Terraplane Blues
  4. If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day
  5. Stop Breakin' Down Blues
  6. Little Queen Of Spades
  7. Traveling Riverside Blues
  8. Me And The Devil Blues
  9. From Four Until Late
  10. Kind Hearted Woman Blues
  11. Ramblin' On My Mind


Product Details

  • Audio CD (December 7, 2004)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Reprise / Wea
  • ASIN: B000660UN0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,119 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Eric had released "Me and Mr. Johnson" only six months earlier. It was o.k., but there wasn't anything particularly compelling about it. Some songs were good, a continuation of the blues material he had previously released on "Behind the Cradle", only this time the focus was exclusively on Robert Johnson, but a few cuts were lackluster walk-throughs. In addition, the performances were entirely electric, full band efforts which was part of the reason for disappointment. Eric was too comfortable hiding behind a full band set-up. For anyone who has really "gotten it" in terms of what Robert Johnson was all about, acoustic seems the way to go - you want to get to the heart of it all - you just can't hide if it's only you and the guitar. Peter Green made the same misstep a few years ago with his own Robert Johnson compilation. It too was primarily a full band set up. But, what you really hoped for was a stripped down session with just one guy and his guitar - something that Robert Johnson was able to pull off in the 1930's, but something that wealthy white rockers nurtured on stadium rock don't seem to be comfortable with. Robert, after all, performed face-to-face with small house party audiences - obviously he had to bare it all night after night... Eric and Peter had gotten too comfortable with huge stadiums. Still... you have this hope that guys as talented as Peter Green and Eric Clapton have it in them somewhere and you just need to get them to take the chance. Is it possible?

This latest release by Clapton ("Sessions for Robert J.") continues to be exclusively about Robert Johnson songs. Yes, many of the songs are duplicated on the two CD releases ("Me and Mr. Johnson" and "Sessions for Robert J"), but each performance is different on the respective albums.
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Format: Audio CD
Clapton has emerged, particularly since McCartney's CONCERT FOR NY, and the TRIBUTE TO GEORGE as a statesman of incomparable dignity, sublime in both the finesse and creativity that he brings to efforts whose subjects he deeply respects. It is no less the case with his most recent releases, be the homages to B B King, George, his own tours, an incredible guitar festival, and now Robert Johnson. The CD is excellent - some additional material and different takes on the ME AND MR JOHNSON release, an extraordinary document in its own right.

But what takes this to an entirely different level is the DVD. A mix of recording sessions in interesting locations (Clapton's English countryside, Johnson's former recording studio) and Clapton's reflections on his approach to Johnson and his myth, most of which Eric is keen to debunk, having been the victim of enough myths to rewrite Homer himself.

And it is just this effort of his to get to the music as he feels it and not take any of the side show for more than that that gets inside of you. You are not going to hear Robert Johnson completely re-worked. You're going to hear his tunes really honsetly delivered. There is a sublime beauty to that that just takes you to that very special place where MUSIC leans over and brings you into its confidence. And that seems to be the point for Clapton: to get inside that confidence in order to honour a man whose dedication and discipline inspired a poor English kid years ago to reach down deep.

And on both the CD and the DVD, the music is without peer. As I say, Clapton at this point in his career has acheived a level of dignity that is to be admired.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Having listened to Clapton for more than 30 years, I can see how he had matured in his interpretation of blues and particularly Robert Johnson's music.

I enjoyed on this CD and DVD Clapton's arrangements of his songs and surprised in the variety that Johnson built into his music.

Clapton keeps the songs true to the original yet adds life of his own to them and brings them out of the 30's into our era.

I appreciate too, him keeping the original lyrics, especially on Sweet Home Chicago and Johnson's peculiar geographic connection.

The more I have seen Clapton in the last few years, I think he has really come to be comfortable in his music and playing to a legendary level. This is a very good set to own.
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Format: Audio CD
This DVD/CD is far superior to the CD which preceded it, 'Me and Mr J', which was released in 2004. The band gels and seems more cohesive. In addition, the arrangements are more interesting and there is more variety in the presentation of the classic Delta songs. Clapton performs several with Dayle Bramhall 11, which are outstanding, but the highlights for me, are the solo accoustic numbers, 'Ramblin' on my Mind' and a poignant 'Love in Vain'.

The previous album lacked this essential variety and sounded repetitious and routine by comparison. Clapton is an excellent accoustic blues guitarist, and should give more exposure to this form of presentation. This is the missing ingredient from the first CD.

What contributes to the enhanced atmosphere, is the decision to perform in the hotel room in Dallas, where Robert Johnson recorded the originals in 1937/38. There are more than a few ghosts hovering and it imbues the music with a sense of spirit and dignity.

There is also an excellent 'Kind Hearted Woman Blues', which the band handles with aplomb.

Highly recommended.
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