Music

Eric Clapton and Friends: The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale

It’s safe, which only gets The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale so far, but, this record will undoubtedly get a lot of people to revisit, or discover JJ Cale, which is a win in itself.


Eric Clapton & Friends

The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale

Label: Bushbranch / Surfdog
US Release Date: 2014-07-29
UK Release Date: 2014-07-28
Artist website
Amazon
iTunes

Early in Clapton’s solo career, JJ Cale’s influence was invaluable. Not only because two of Cale’s songs, “After Midnight” — which he covered on his self-titled solo debut, four years after Cale first released a demo of the song — and “Cocaine” from 1977’s Slowhand are among Clapton’s most notable tracks, but also because Cale’s laid-back Americana minimalism seemed to greatly impact Clapton’s musical path. In July of 2014, in USA Today, Clapton spoke of Cale and the “very profound musical and philosophical effect he had on my life, through his music and the way he conducted himself as a singer, musician and player. I think he had a similar effect on the whole of the music scene”.

On The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale, Clapton and friends — Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, Derek Trucks, former Cale bandmate Don White, to name a few — contribute renditions honoring the late Oklahoma-born musician , who died in 2013 at the age of 74. While, mostly, it feels like a faithful jam session that plays it safe — valuing memory more than exploration — that’s ok. This record is what it is: a major step in immortalizing a reclusive legend who wasn’t a household name, yet whose work ended up in the canon. JJ Cale might not have liked the spotlight, but his songs certainly belong there.

Clapton kicks off the album with a dead-on emulation of the freewheeling, smooth R&B boogie that was Cale’s signature on “Call Me The Breeze”. One of the best tracks is the Don White-led “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me)”, a Bakersfield country-leaning throwback that captures the essence of Cale, but wiggles away just enough to add some fresh flair. Willie Nelson’s shaky vocals and Derek Trucks adding his signature slide on “Starbound” brings the grit, while Clapton and John Mayer add a traditional blues touch to “Don’t Wait”. Bit by bit, song by song, you start to wonder how much they’re trying to sound like Cale — possibly out of pure respect or fear of over-performing a guy known for his ice-cool subtly. It’s safe, which only gets The Breeze so far, but, this record will undoubtedly get a lot of people to revisit, or discover JJ Cale, which is a win in itself.

As I currently write this sentence, The Breeze is Number Two on the Billboard 200. Just that alone is a massive success, but, in that USA Today interview, Clapton brings up something that could be much more important — if done with care — to continue celebrating the brilliance of JJ Cale. When asked about the songs Cale left behind, Clapton said, “There is a lot of stuff, a lot of demos. But believe me, they are un-coverable. I'm hoping, bit-by-bit, the stuff will come out in its original form. That's the way it sounds best.''

6
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

How the Template for Modern Combat Journalism Developed

The superbly researched Journalism and the Russo-Japanese War tells readers how Japan pioneered modern techniques of propaganda and censorship in the Russo-Japanese War.

Film

From Horrifying Comedy to Darkly Funny Horror: Bob Clark Films

What if I told you that the director of one of the most heartwarming and beloved Christmas movies of all time is the same director as probably the most terrifying and disturbing yuletide horror films of all time?

Music

The 50 Best Songs of 2007

Journey back 13 years to a stellar year for Rihanna, M.I.A., Arcade Fire, and Kanye West. From hip-hop to indie rock and everywhere in between, PopMatters picks the best 50 songs of 2007.

Music

'Modern' Is the Pinnacle of Post-Comeback Buzzcocks' Records

Presented as part of the new Buzzcocks' box-set, Sell You Everything, Modern showed a band that wasn't interested in just repeating itself or playing to nostalgia.

Music

​Nearly 50 and Nearly Unplugged: 'ChangesNowBowie' Is a Glimpse Into a Brilliant Mind

Nine tracks, recorded by the BBC in 1996 show David Bowie in a relaxed and playful mood. ChangesNowBowie is a glimpse into a brilliant mind.

Music

Reaching for the Sky: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bruce Sudano

How did Bruce Sudano become a superhero? PopMatters has the answer as Sudano celebrates the release of Spirals and reflects on his career from Brooklyn Dreams to Broadway.

Music

Inventions Conjure Mystery and Hope with the Intensely Creative 'Continuous Portrait'

Instrumental duo Matthew Robert Cooper (Eluvium) and Mark T. Smith (Explosions in the Sky) release their first album in five years as Inventions. Continuous Portrait is both sonically thrilling and oddly soothing.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch Are 'Live at the Village Vanguard' to Raise Money for Musicians

Esperanza Spalding and Fred Hersch release a live recording from a 2018 show to raise money for a good cause: other jazz musicians.

Music

Lady Gaga's 'Chromatica' Hides Its True Intentions Behind Dancefloor Exuberance

Lady Gaga's Chromatica is the most lively and consistent record she's made since Born This Way, embracing everything great about her dance-pop early days and giving it a fresh twist.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Street Art As Sprayed Solidarity: Global Corona Graffiti

COVID-19-related street art functions as a vehicle for political critique and social engagement. It offers a form of global solidarity in a time of crisis.

Music

Gretchen Peters Honors Mickey Newbury With "The Sailor" and New Album (premiere + interview)

Gretchen Peters' latest album, The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs of Mickey Newbury, celebrates one of American songwriting's most underappreciated artists. Hear Peters' new single "The Sailor" as she talks about her latest project.

Music

Okkyung Lee Goes From Classical to Noise on the Stellar 'Yeo-Neun'

Cellist Okkyung Lee walks a fine line between classical and noise on the splendid, minimalist excursion Yeo-Neun.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.