Archive for Eric Clapton

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Rick Danko

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on July 15, 2010 by 30daysout

Riffling through my big sister’s stack of records I found an album that many people would consider a lost classic: Rick Danko, the 1977 solo debut album from the bass player and singer from the Band.  It was the first solo LP by a member of that beloved group, which had famously disbanded the year before with its “Last Waltz” concert in San Francisco.

And of all the solo projects by the members of the Band, only Rick Danko features each member of the group.  Other friends and guests included Eric Clapton, Ron Wood, Doug Sahm, Blondie Chaplin (then of the Beach Boys), Gerry Beckley (of America) and David Paich (who would later become part of Toto).  Danko wrote most of the tracks with lyrics by actor/comedian Emmett Grogan and Louisiana singer/songwriter Bobby Charles, who was a friend of the Band.

Many people have said this is the best solo effort by any member of the Band, but I think those assessments were made before Levon Helm’s more recent success (Dirt Farmer, Electric Dirt).  Rick Danko would certainly rank up there among the best, though.

Songs like the opener “What A Town,” “New Mexico” and “Small Town Talk” – all co-written with Charles – sound most like the Band.  “What A Town” is an uptempo lope a lot like “Ophelia” and Ron Wood, who was in the Rolling Stones by this time, contributes a sweet guitar solo.  Another highlight is “New Mexico,” flavored by the accordion of Garth Hudson and the guitar of Eric Clapton.

“Tired of Waiting” sounds a lot like a Doug Sahm tune, and in fact Sir Doug himself lays down some vocal harmonies and a guitar solo on this track.  When Bobby Charles did “Small Town Talk” on his own solo album he took an almost acoustic, singer/songwriterly approach.  Danko’s version of the song lays on the horns for fuller production – and Danko himself plays lead guitar on this highlight.

Robbie Robertson takes a turn on guitar with “Java Blues” and it’s one of his better solo riffs.  By the time Levon Helm lends his singular vocal twang to harmonies on “Once Upon A Time,” you can close your eyes and hear the Band at Woodstock.  But that was the final tune on the album – although a rich experience, it seems very short to me.

Danko would of course be part of the reunion of the Band (minus Robertston) in the 1990s.  After Richard Manuel’s suicide, Danko and Helm handled most of the vocals on the three studio albums under the Band imprint.  Danko also cut a few folk-oriented albums with singer/songwriter Eric Andersen and Norwegian roots artist Jonas Fjeld and one of them, Danko/ Fjeld/ Andersen from 1991, won a Grammy Award.  Danko would tour with Ringo Starr’s All-Starr Band and cut a few more solo albums before his death in 1999.

MP3: “What A Town”

MP3: “Java Blues”

MP3: “Once Upon A Time”

The Band official website (with extensive info on all the members’ solo projects)

Your Sister’s (Record) Rack: Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

Posted in Rock Classics! with tags , , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by 30daysout

Today we have a great album to share:  D&B Together, from Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.  The husband-and-wife team of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett put out some great records in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  They started out on Stax Records, and you can get an idea of what these two funky white folks had to sound like to record for the likes of Stax (home to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, etc.).

Delaney Bramlett is one of the great rock bandleaders, perhaps underrated today but certainly not when he was in his prime.  Bramlett not only had his fiercely soulful singin’ wife, but he recruited some of the greatest musicians to play backup on those Delaney & Bonnie albums.  D&B Together, from 1972, is the duo’s sixth album and man, they don’t cut records like this any more.

First, the band: Delaney, on guitar and vocals; Bonnie, vocals; drums, Jim Gordon (Derek & the Dominos); bass, Kenny Gradney (Little Feat); keyboards, Billy Preston!; keyboards and vocals, Leon Friggin’ Russell!; more bass, Carl Radle (Derek & the Dominos); more drums, Jaimoe (Allman Brothers); more keyboards, Bobby Whitlock (Derek & the Dominos); and even more bass, James Jamerson (Motown)!  Now the guitar players – Eric Clapton, Steve “The Colonel” Cropper, Dave Mason and Duane Friggin’ Allman!  Nice, eh?

The album kicks off with Mason’s “Only You Know and I Know,” which was a hit for Delaney & Bonnie.  Led by Bonnie’s soulful vocals (with backing vocals – oh I forgot those – by Merry Clayton, Rita Coolidge, Clydie King, Tina Turner and Eddie Kendricks, among others) the song establishes the easy rockin’ and intoxicating mash of soul, rock, blues and country that seemed to be so easy and unforced back in the early 1970s.  “Wade In The River of Jordan” could have been a tambourine-shaker from any white or black country church, and Delaney’s “Well Well” is another tasty slab of rockin’ soul.

Continue reading

Live: Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood, Houston

Posted in Review with tags , , , , on June 25, 2009 by 30daysout

WinwoodWith just a handful of shows left on their current tour, 60s rock gods Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood turned in a sometimes surprising show in Houston’s Toyota Center on June 24.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was that the show seemed to spotlight Winwood a bit more, with Clapton taking a secondary role more often than not.  Now let’s put that into perspective – Clapton didn’t address the audience and he didn’t perform many of the more famous numbers associated with his career, but he let his guitar do the talking.  And it was eloquent indeed.

Continue reading

Better Than Clapton? Blasphemy!

Posted in Rock Rant with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2009 by 30daysout

budo3

Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood roll into Houston tonight for a stop on their current tour.  It’s always a pleasure to see Clapton, particularly when he’s not in one of his blues modes, or his unplugged modes.  Nothing is better than being in the same room with this awesome guitarist when he cuts loose on a rock song – you certainly want to agree with that classic 1960s graffiti: “Clapton Is God.”

But is Eric Clapton the best guitarist in rock?  Most people would agree, others (particularly those who like to start fights in bars) would disagree.  A few years ago Rolling Stone magazine listed the “100 Greatest Guitarists in Rock,” and Clapton wound up No. 4 on their list.  That list alone could start about a million bar fights, but anyway… Who could believably be considered a greater guitarist than Clapton?  Let’s take a look at five candidates.

1. Jimi Hendrix – During only a few years in the international spotlight (1967-1970), Hendrix managed to accomplish more than many other guitarists do in a lifetime.  Rightfully named No. 1 on Rolling Stone‘s list, nobody has ever come close to this guy – not even Eric Clapton.

MP3: “Little Wing” (alternate version) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

2. Jeff  Beck – Clapton’s successor in the Yardbirds, Beck certainly has a style and technique that is all his own.  He’s managed to graft jazz fusion into a ferocious rock style.  Beck has often sacrificed commercial success for experimentalism, which makes for some fascinating (and sometimes boring) albums.

MP3: “Sweet Little Angel” by Jeff Beck w/ Rod Stewart & Ron Wood 

3. Jimmy Page – The third Yardbirds guitarist and the mastermind behind Led Zeppelin, Page is a powerful guitarist – and the sides he cut with Zeppelin in the late 1960s-early 1970s still wield a mighty influence today.

MP3: “Achilles Last Stand” by Led Zeppelin

4. Peter Green – The troubled genius from the first, bluesy incarnation of Fleetwood Mac may actually be a better pure blues guitarist than Clapton.  He was no slouch as a songwriter, either; he wrote the song attached here.  Nobody played like Peter Green – and today, neither does Peter Green.

MP3: “Black Magic Woman” by Fleetwood Mac

5. Stevie Ray Vaughan – This Texas boy thrilled audiences before leaving us way too soon but he left behind some classic recordings and live shows.  It may a take a few listens for newbies to figure out what makes this guy so great; listening to a Stevie Ray performance is like unwrapping an unexpected Christmas gift.

MP3: “Pride and Joy” (live) by Stevie Ray Vaughan

BONUS: “Little Wing” (live) by Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood

Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time list

Photo courtesy of Eric Clapton’s official website  

Review: “Live From Madison Square Garden,” Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood

Posted in Review with tags , , , on May 21, 2009 by 30daysout

Front

Two rock legends in a sold-out series of shows from New York City?  If that sounds even remotely interesting, then Live From Madison Square Garden is for you.  There’s something comforting about the presence of Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood on the concert trail – maybe it’s just that the old guys can get up there and give the young folks a good run too.

Because this is kinda a reunion of the two superstars from the short-lived 1960s supergroup Blind Faith, you get a handful of those numbers (“Can’t Find My Way Home,” “Had To Cry Today,” etc.) as well as some choice numbers from Winwood’s Traffic days (“Pearly Queen,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy”) and some nice Clapton solo choices (“After Midnight,” “Cocaine”). 

This stuff rocks – still – and Clapton plays like a man possessed.  His blues showcases, including “Double Trouble” and the Robert Johnson acoustic chestnut “Rambling On My Mind” both feature astonishing guitar work and are the best cuts here.  This is one of the best sounding live albums I’ve heard in a while: vocals and guitars (Winwood’s no slouch, either) are crisply recorded and right up front, and it’s all served up on a bed of tasty Hammond organ from Winwood.  If we have to relive the 1960s, this is certainly the way to do it.  (This concert is also available on DVD, with some extra tunes.)

MP3: “Double Trouble”

Eric Clapton official website

Steve Winwood official website

The Midnight Special

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on January 13, 2009 by 30daysout
leadbelly

Leadbelly

Sugar Land is a booming town located in the grassy flatlands just west of Houston, Texas.  Those who don’t live there just speed along the freeway, past the city’s strip centers and restaurants on their way down the Gulf Coast.  In that respect, nothing much has changed in just about 100 years –  back in the 1920s one didn’t go to Sugar Land unless you had to.

Walter Boyd surely didn’t want to go there in 1918; he soon found that the sugar plantations and sugar refinery may have given Sugar Land its name, but the town was best known as the location of a Texas prison.   Boyd killed one of his relatives in a fight over a woman, and he was sentenced to 35 years in the penitentiary.  Because he was black, Boyd was sent to the segregated Harlem prison just west of the bigger Central Unit where the white prisoners were kept.  Jailers soon discovered that Walter Boyd wasn’t even the prisoner’s real name – it was actually Huddie Ledbetter.

Continue reading

Delaney Bramlett, R.I.P.

Posted in News with tags , , , on December 29, 2008 by 30daysout

p11902ukf51

Delaney Bramlett, who put together one of the best bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s, has died at the age of 69.  Teamed with his wife Bonnie, Bramlett assembled a Southern-rock outfit that included the likes of Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and Leon Russell.  Some of the other players – including Bobby Whitlock, Jim Gordon and Carl Radle – would go on to play on other blockbuster albums of the 1970s, like George Harrison’s All Things Must Pass and of course, Clapton’s Layla.

Some of the wire stories about Bramlett’s death mistakenly attribute him as the co-writer of such Clapton hits as “Let It Rain” but it was really wife Bonnie who was the writer on those songs.  He did co-write songs for Clapton’s eponymous solo debut album, in 1970.  Anyway, Delaney Bramlett – a rock and roll classic.

MP3: “They Call It Rock and Roll Music” (from To Bonnie, From Delaney, 1970)

MP3: “Soul Shake” (1970)

MP3: “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” (from Motel Shot, 1971)

MP3: “Never Ending Song Of Love” (1971)

MP3: “Groupie (Superstar)” (1970)

MP3: “Bottle Of Red Wine” (from Eric Clapton, 1970)

Review: “Imus Ranch Record,” Various Artists

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2008 by 30daysout

No matter what you think about radio talk show host Don Imus (I happen to like him and listen to him daily) there is one thing you can’t deny…the guy does alot for kids with cancer and their families. He and his wife, Deidre, run the Imus Ranch in New Mexico, a working cattle ranch where kids with cancer can work with animals and get away from their illness for a little while. He has raised millions of dollars for the ranch in a number of different ways throughout the years and his latest fund-raising effort is the Imus Ranch Record.

Continue reading

Review: “Skin Deep,” Buddy Guy

Posted in Review with tags , , , on July 15, 2008 by 30daysout

 

 

 

 

 

Buddy Guy is a national treasure – at age 72, he has played the blues for four and a half decades and shows no signs of slowing down.    Buddy has influenced Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.  He is the living, breathing inheritor of the Chicago urban blues tradition handed down directly from Muddy Waters (with whom Buddy played) and Howlin’ Wolf.  

He has made at least 60 albums and Skin Deep, his latest, shows off Guy’s screaming guitar and vocal prowess as well as any of his other efforts.  Sure, the guest stars pop up as they do all too often these days – Clapton plays and sings on “Every Time I Sing The Blues” and “Too Many Tears” features the husband-wife team of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks (Allman Brothers Band).  “Who’s Gonna Fill Those Shoes” mourns and name-checks the lost real blues men, and Buddy Guy’s wailing guitar leads suggests that he may very well be the last of the old-school guys.  That may be true and all the more reason to pick up Skin Deep.  It’s good work by a true master.

MP3: “Who’s Gonna Fill Those Shoes”

Buddy Guy official website

Lost Classics? Kinky Friedman

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , on July 7, 2008 by 30daysout

 

Kinky Friedman sometime in the 1970s, at the Texas Opry House with dancing “waitret” in background.

Kinky Friedman is an artist for whom the term “politically incorrect” is inadequate.  Even “obnoxious” is inadequate.  Kinky is an equal opportunity offender, no one escapes his satirical aim.  And his albums are all pretty much the same: tasteless or hilarious, depending on your point of view (or state of intoxication). 

Continue reading