19 May 16
Where’s Eric! Editor Tony Edser examines Eric Clapton’s new studio album, I Still Do, track by track. Released everywhere today, it’s available in a variety of physical and digital formats. Produced by Glyn Johns, the musicians are EC’s longtime touring band – Andy Fairweather Low, Chris Stainton, Paul Carrack, Henry Spinetti, Dave Bronze, Michelle John and Sharon White – augmented in the studio by Simon Climie, Dirk Powell, Walt Richmond, Ethan Johns and the elusive “Angelo Mysterioso.”
The review originally appeared as an exclusive in the April 2016 edition of the magazine. For more information about the 24-year old fan-produced publication, click here.
I Still Do – The Where’s Eric! Review
In an interview around the release of Old Sock, Eric commented ”I feel the need to appreciate and show my gratitude to great musicians who come up with good music”. Well, that theme is continued here on I Still Do and there is a great deal of comfort, relief even, in hearing a classic blues standard, with its mid tempo, grungy riff and that familiar, rasping slide guitar, immediately this record starts. If, like me, you found Old Sock rather disjointed however, then a return to the roots is a very welcome opener indeed for Eric’s 23rd studio album, and prefaces a collection of songs, including a brace of Eric’s own compositions, that actually sit together very well.
The album artwork, an illustration of Eric by Sir Peter Blake, will already be familiar to those who brought the programme at last year’s MSG and RAH concerts, whilst the album title is inspired by Eric’s affection for his aunt who was dying. When thanking her for for putting up with him when he was a “difficult boy,” she said “I like you, and I still do.”
So, track by track:
Alabama Woman Blues: Leroy Carr standard, performed regularly during Eric’s 1993 and 2014 tours and featuring new band member, Dirk Powell on accordion.
Can’t Let You Do It: Many artists cover JJ Cale songs but nobody does it better than Eric and on this shuffle he adds some lovely understated slide wah wah.
I Will Be There: There’s been a lot of speculation surrounding this track’s mystery guest, “Angelo Mysterioso”, who sings the 2nd verse solo and adds harmonies and acoustic guitar. Well, it’s definitely not George Harrison! The WE! Office has had our own suspicions confirmed but we remain sworn to secrecy. However, it’s a lovely song with an infectious hook, rim shots and dampened guitar riff.
Spiral: Great intro and groove throughout this EC, Andy Fairweather Low, Simon Climie composition, with the lyric seemingly paying homage to the gift of music.
Catch The Blues: Eric’s song, subtle wah wah, cool Hammond from Paul Carrack and nice work from the BV’s – Michelle John and Sharon White. My original notes say “more samba than blues” and I’ll stick with that!
Cypress Grove: Eric’s no stranger to covering Skip James (I’m so Glad ) and this is done in Me and Mr Johnson style, the accordion adding a slight Cajun feel.
Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day: A standard made famous by Sarah Vaughan, with Eric the sole instrumentalist. Wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the Clapton album.
Stones In My Passway: Robert Johnson, nuff said! From the Sessions for Robert J DVD and featured regularly on Eric’s 2013 tour.
I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine: Eric has done some great Bob Dylan covers over the years and this song, from John Wesley Harding, adds to that collection. Gentle accordion and the tone of Eric’s guitar makes me think of Ry Cooder but this is very pleasing on the ears.
I’ll Be Alright: Traditional, with gospel, almost New Orleans funeral march overtones. Lovely slide and Andy Fairweather Low doing what he does best – picking out the rhythm.
Somebody’s Knockin’: JJ Cale song recorded almost identically to the live versions on the 2014 tour and at last May’s concerts in MSG and RAH.
I’ll Be Seeing You: Beautiful Billie Holiday standard with a slow fade out and a fitting final lyric; “’I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you”.
Glyn Johns has done a fine job with production that is sympathetic but allowing, such that the solo instruments, including the accordion, cut through clearly, whilst, on the blues numbers, there is a fat sound without any hint of it becoming cluttered.
The album was recorded over a month during the autumn of 2015 and there were two other EC compositions, Lonesome and Freight Train, left off, which we hope will surface on the bonus versions of the album. If you’re expecting Cream or Dominos guitar pyrotechnics, forget it – those days are over. This is Eric as he is now; a little more mellow, happy in life, but still perfectly capable of letting rip when he wants to. His voice is strong, the guitar playing is tasteful and emotional and the fire still burns brightly. I’ve always loved Eric’s music – and I still do!