J.J. Cale & Eric Clapton

The Road to Escondido [Reprise]

Thanks to his high-profile covers of the J.J. Cale-penned “Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” it kind of seems like Eric Clapton has made records with Cale in the past. Not so. This offering, tracked back in August of 2005, represents their first collaborative studio venture. The two cover a fair amount of stylistic ground on the 14 cuts, from the R&B-flavored “Danger” to the rollicking “When this War Is Over” to the acoustic-tinged “Three Little Girls.” Because Cale has been such an influence on Clapton, it’s sometimes hard to tell who’s playing what, a task made even more difficult by the presence of a whole passel of special guests (as well as vague liner notes). Albert Lee, John Mayer, Doyle Bramhall II, and Derek Trucks all appear at various times to add their respective mojo. Still, there are plenty of classic Claptonisms, funky, notched-tone Cale licks, clean-tone shred breaks (Lee), and badass slide parts (Trucks) to make just about any guitar fan want to go down this road. It took Clapton and Cale a long time to get around to making this record and they delivered the goods. For fans of rootsy, bluesy tunes, it’ll be worth the wait.
—Matt Blackett