Eric Clapton’s recent release Live In San Diego With Special Guest JJ Cale is a wonderful set that not only features Clapton in top form (it was recorded in San Diego in 2007), but serves as a strong reminder of the massive influence that the elusive American JJ Cale had on the English guitarist.
The concert was part of a world tour that was much loved by Clapton fans and featured a stellar band that included guitarists Derek Trucks (now of the Tedeschi Trucks band) and Doyle Bramhall II. The two-hour San Diego show was a highlight of the tour as it featured JJ Cale as a special guest on five tracks - “Anyway The Wind Blows”, “After Midnight”, “Who Am I Telling You?”, “Don’t Cry Sister” and, of course, “Cocaine”.
Clapton had collaborated with Cale a year or so earlier, in 2006, teaming up for the album Road to Escondido, which was released under both of their names. At the time, Clapton said “This is the realization of what may have been my last ambition, to work with the man whose music has inspired me for as long as I can remember.”
Clapton’s love of Cale’s work had begun early in the ‘70s and hit him hard mid-decade, when he was at a low ebb, struggling with addictions and not liking the music around him. He said in 2014, "I went into that dark period in my life and was just absent, and about that time some of JJ's early stuff was coming out. I definitely was trying to shake off this guitar legend thing, which I thought was so plebeian. It was such a pedestrian way of looking at things. I didn't want anything to do with that. I didn't want anything to do with this heavy metal s--- that was going on. I can't stand the noise. I wanted to kind of see the virtuosity, I wanted to get back to fundamentals, and he was a fundamentalist for sure. And so he was my beacon."
Clapton had recorded Cale’s early track “After Midnight” in 1970, and then had a huge international hit with Cale’s “Cocaine” in 1977. But it didn’t stop there: he covered Cale’s "I'll Make Love To You Anytime" on his 1978 album Backless, "Travelin' Light" on his 2001 album Reptile, and "River Runs Deep" and "Everything Will Be Alright" on his Clapton album in 2010. In the year of his passing, Cale guested on a cover of his song "Angel" on Clapton’s 2013 album Old Sock. Most recently Clapton covered two more Cale tunes "Can't Let You Do It" and "Somebody's Knockin'" on his 2016 album I Still Do. And in 2014, Eric Clapton & ‘Friends’ - including Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson, Tom Petty and others - recorded the tribute album The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale.
Let’s have a look back in video at the musical relationship between these two giants, starting off with "Anyway the Wind Blows" from the San Diego concert:
Eric Clapton & Friends "Call Me The Breeze" from The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale
Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale RARE making The Road To Escondido album 2006 – interviews and music:
Eric Clapton - Cocaine (1977)
Eric Clapton - After Midnight (1970)
Live In San Diego is now available as a two-disc CD, a three-disc vinyl set and as a digital album and is well worth getting your hands on if you're a fan of either artist. Not only does it showcase a superb set list from across Eric’s career, it includes songs from Eric’s classic Derek and the Dominos album Layla, with Derek Trucks playing many of Duane Allman’s original guitar parts. Full tracklisting below.
LIVE IN SAN DIEGO WITH SPECIAL GUEST JJ CALE - TRACKLISTING:
- Tell The Truth
- Key To The Highway
- Got To Get Better In A Little While
- Little Wing
- Anyway The Wind Blows
- After Midnight
- Who Am I Telling You?
- Don’t Cry Sister
- Motherless Children
- Little Queen Of Spades
- Further On Up The Road
- Wonderful Tonight
- Eric Clapton: Guitar & Vocals
- JJ Cale: Guitar & Vocals (Tracks 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
- Doyle Bramhall II: Guitar/Backing Vocals
- Derek Trucks: Slide Guitar
- Willie Weeks: Bass
- Steve Jordan: Drums
- Chris Stainton: Keyboards
- Tim Carmon: Keyboards
- Michelle John: Backing Vocals
- Sharon White: Backing Vocals
- Robert Cray: Guitar & Vocals (Track 16)