Blues Power: Songs of Eric Clapton
(House of Blues)
First Appeared at The Music Box, October 1999, Volume 6, #10
Written by John Metzger
Eric Clapton has spent his career bringing attention to the blues artists who inspired him to begin performing several decades ago. Blues Power: Songs of Eric Clapton, the third effort in the House of Blues' This Ain't No Tribute series, is a fitting response as blues greats young and old join forces to pay homage to the legendary guitarist. While this set lacks some of the originality and luster of the edition dedicated to the Rolling Stones, it's still filled with durable, and sometimes spine-tingling performances.
For example, Larry McCray unleashes a furious assault on Miss You as he makes his guitar scream over the song's funky bass line. Likewise, Koko Taylor works her vocal magic on a raging cover of the title track, and the tune's intensity is further fueled by the twin guitars of Rico McFarland and Chris Johnson. Finally, Otis Rush channels all the heartache and pain he can muster into the despondent Old Love, which Clapton had originally penned with Robert Cray.
There's no question that Eric Clapton has created a tremendous body of work, but Layla is surely his signature tune. Just how, then, do you go about delivering a song that is so well-recognized and so often played that it's sure to draw the highest level of attention and criticism? Leave it to two young and talented musicians to find a way. Though the song pre-dates them by several years, Eric Gales and, appropriately enough, Derek Trucks combine their talents for a blistering run-through of this classic song. Like Clapton often does in concert, the duo opens with a loosely constructed guitar jam before blasting into the tune's familiar theme. The sound of Trucks' guitar slices through the melody with sheer potency before the melody drifts into the tune's beautiful, euphonious coda. For the moment, Gales and Trucks make this portion of Layla their reason for being — connecting with the past, but delivering the future. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 1999 The Music Box