This is EC.’s 23rd solo album and, oddly, the first one I’m featuring since Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Which, by the way, if you’re expecting, forget it. Eric doesn’t record albums with that kind of passion any more. This one serves as somewhat of a reunion with producer Glyn Johns who, most notably, produced the great Slowhand album.
Frankly, I had heard some stuff from this and was prepared not to like it. But here’s the thing – I listened to it on YouTube and I totally dug it. It’s Clapton’s usual late-career mellow mix of blues, J.J. Cale stuff, love songs, Dylan covers, etc. Don’t come here looking for screaming guitars.
So you might think, well, that will suck because sometimes Clapton lapses into autopilot. But he doesn’t do that here. This is not to say the album is perfect and I could probably live without old chestnuts like, “Little Man You’ve Had a Busy Day.”
But to get a sense of this album, consider that mellow shit that you hear in the background when you’re at Starbucks and think, “Hey, that sounds pretty good.” It’s like that. If the thought of that turns you off, avoid this like the plague.
The reviews have been pretty good and the album seems to be a hit. Rolling Stone says, “Snarling, stabbing, and strutting, the sound is less laid back than just got laid, a welcome change from the supperclub blues and beachcomber reggae tones of 2013’s apparent retirement postcard, Old Sock.”
Here’s Clapton doing Skip James’ “Cypress Grove.” (Cream used to do a James song called “I’m So Glad” way back when):
Per Classic Rock magazine, Clapton revealed that he’s had some health problems lately: “I’ve had quite a lot of pain over the last year. It started with lower back pain and turned into what they call peripheral neuropathy, which is where you feel like you have electric shocks going down your leg,”
Peripheral neuropathy results from damaged peripheral nerves and causes muscle weaknesses, numbness, and pain sensations, usually in the hands and feet. There are multiple causes of neuropathies, including, but not limited to: alcoholism, diabetes, tumors, and vitamin deficiencies.
I liked the song, “I Will Be There,” as soon as I heard it. The (manufactured for publicity) “controversy” is that an uncredited musician named Angelo Mysterioso appears on the song. Rumor has it that it was an old recording of George Harrison as it’s similar to how he’s credited on the Cream song, “Badge.” Clapton denies this and the YouTube guys insist it’s Ed Sheeran (who apparently has performed this with Clapton.) One reviewer said it sounded like Tracy Chapman!
And you say where is that inevitable J.J. Cale song? Here it is, “Somebody’s Knockin'”
It’s been pretty clear for quite some time that Clapton enjoys doing this mellow thing on record, maybe saving the balls-out stuff for his Crossroads and Royal Albert Hall shows. (He’s pretty much given up touring, pronouncing the it unbearable). So if you’re looking for that stuff, best to listen to the old Bluesbreakers and Cream albums. But if you like mellow Clapton, this is a really nice, Sunday morning album.
If you liked this taste, the whole album’s here on YouTube. The title, BTW, comes from a conversation EC had with his aunt. He thanked her for taking care of him as a boy. She said, “Well, I liked you and I still do.”
Clapton said, “Just in case I don’t cut another record, this is how I feel, I kind of might be saying goodbye.” So Eric, if the song “I’ll Be Seeing You” on the album is a hint – and this really is your swan song – well, to quote the Hitchhiker’s Guide, So long. And thanks for all the fish.
7 thoughts on “Album Review – Eric Clapton – I Still Do”
Hmm, it’s weird to watch the old heroes growing old and mellow and yet, why not? You can’t stay an angry young man forever.
Exactly. And if you think about it, Clapton’s music has always been a reflection of where he was at the time, using blues as his medium. So Layla expressed his frustration over being in love with Harrison’s wife. And so, cut to over 40 years later. Despite his health problems, Clapton’s content. So does content make for good music? Sometimes the answer is no.
But in this case, I find it to be a rewarding album. And I am not a mellow music guy. If someone asked me to record an album (which, BTW, will never happen), it would be filled with rip-roaring blues and rock n’ roll. Not going gentle into that good night.
Didn’t comment on this first time through but your comment on another piece about EC at the Dylan tribute brought me back. Yeah this is a good review. What CB has come to expect. He’s never going to be bad (He’s too good). I still keep EC around but I tend to go to the ‘Layla’ and the bookends around that. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t say no to this one. You are a true admirer of his music.
Interestingly, I was going through some CD’s in my car and found one of them from his Crossroads set. It was from the ’70’s and included some Derek and the Dominos stuff and some of his mellower blues (and other) output. I think this when he was the most wasted. On some of the blues, it sounds like he can barely make it to the mic. On listening, I kinda rediscovered a D& tune from their unreleased 2nd album. Willie Dixon wrote it, Howlin’ Wolf wrote it, EC rocked it up. Add it to your Derek and the Dominos fund of knowledge:
Yup! That sounds fantastic. If this was released CB would gobble it up. It wasn’t just this style , it was the whole feel on songs like ‘It’s Too Late’. Same thing with the ‘No reason to Cry’ Album. Wasn’t always hard blues but it was something. CB can’t put his finger on it. A little more rough around the edges, improvised, not over produced, I don’t know. Help me?
I know exactly what you mean, CB. Loose, in-the-pocket, laid-back, funky, yes? BTW, you can buy ‘Evil’ and some other D&D stuff on iTunes. Do a little research if you’re into it and you may find that you can at least buy the Derek songs that are on the Crossroads CD. Start here:
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I have a lot of his vinyl but this could be a future purchase. You hit the nail on the head with your summation.
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