Chords and Notes

J. J. Cale and Eric Clapton: The Road to EscondidoReprise, CD, Rs. 395Sometime in 1968, the rock supergroup Cream folded and Eric Clapton started casting around for a new musical direction. He was "adopted" by Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, with whom he began to perform as a supporting guitarist though, thanks to contractual restrictions, he went unbilled and uncredited. Moving to New York a year later, he released his first solo album ( Eric Clapton) shortly thereafter, with support from the Bramletts and their backing band. It spun off a No. 18 pop hit "After Midnight", a cover of a J.J. Cale song, and laid the groundwork for a completely reinvented, much more mellow Clapton sound, which leaned more on country than on blues. The decision to turn over a new musical leaf was a momentous one, because he soon went on to form Derek and The Dominoes, and achieve great success with his next big hit "Layla." Much later in 1978 another Cale tune, "Cocaine," was the centrepiece of his Slowhand album. Though Clapton never performed with Cale before this album, his musical thread to Cale was via Delaney and Bonnie, and also Derek and The Dominoes guitarist Carl Radle, all of whom had collaborated with Cale earlier on in their careers. Highly influential as a musician, Jean Jacques Cale the person was an enigma, a maverick who traced his roots to Oklahoma. Born in 1938, he had picked up guitar at age 10. In less able hands, this formula could degenerate into sheer tedium, but Cale exacts a strange magic out of it that has garnered him a fanatical following which includes such high-profile musicians as Eric Clapton and Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler. If Chuck Berry pioneered the country sound in blues and rock and roll, it is Cale who is the best exponent of the blues sound in the country and western idiom.Cale's first band was called The Leathercoated Minds, and maybe remembered by posterity if only for its name. Though his independent spirit and relaxed approach to his art never quite gelled with the commercial side of the music business, he nevertheless had some minor hits of his own, such as "Magnolia," (later covered by Jose Feliciano), "The Sensitive Kind" (covered by Santana, also by John Mayall), "Crazy Mama" and "They Call Me The Breeze" (later covered in spectacular fashion by Lynryd Skynryd). Though he had become a cult figure by then, mediocre record sales in the early eighties frustrated him, and caused him to hibernate for seven years as at home on the outskirts of L.A.

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