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Call Him The Breeze: Clapton and Friends Celebrate Music of J.J. Cale On New Album, Exclusive Box Set

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Eric Clapton - The BreezeIn 2006, Eric Clapton teamed with singer-songwriter J.J. Cale for the collaborative album The Road to Escondido.  The guitar god had long been a fan and patron of Cale’s; he included “After Midnight” on his 1970 solo debut and took “Cocaine” to the Top 30 in 1977.  Escondido earned both men a Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album, and it would prove to be among Cale’s final recordings.  He released the album Roll On in 2009, featuring Clapton on its title track.  Then, in 2013, Cale passed away at the age of 74.  On July 29, Clapton pays homage to his old friend with The Breeze: An Appreciation of J.J. Cale.  In the spirit of The Road to Escondido, Clapton has called on pals and admirers alike to celebrate Cale’s legacy, among them Tom Petty, Mark Knopfler, Willie Nelson, Derek Trucks and John Mayer.  The Bushbranch/Surfdog Records release is being paired in a special online-exclusive box set with a disc of Cale’s original songs as covered on the new record, including three previously unissued tracks, as well as a special USB stick and more special content.

The Breeze takes its title from “Call Me the Breeze,” which Cale first recorded on his own solo debut, 1972’s Naturally.  The song was picked up by Lynyrd Skynyrd, Johnny Cash, Bobby Bare and John Mayer; Clapton tackles it himself on The Breeze.  Mayer joins Clapton on the new album for another Naturally tune, “Magnolia,” as well as for “Lies” (from 1973’s Really) and “Don’t Wait” (from 1982’s Grasshopper).  Tom Petty, whose latest album with The Heartbreakers also arrives this summer, handles “Rock and Roll Records,” “The Old Man and Me” and “I Got the Same Old Blues,” all from 1974’s Okie.  (Petty and his band covered the Okie track “I’d Like to Love You Baby” in concert, leading to its inclusion on their 2009 Live Anthology.)  Cale’s country-blues style also appealed to Willie Nelson, who appears on The Breeze with “Starbound” from Okie and the previously unheard “Songbird.”  Willie is supported on the former by The Allman Brothers Band’s Derek Trucks, who also is represented by “Crying Eyes” from Naturally.

Another guitar virtuoso, Mark Knopfler, is featured on two more previously unreleased Cale songs, “Someday” and “Train to Nowhere” with Don White.  Cale helped White form his first band and played guitar in that unit; White pays tribute to his friend and mentor with two more tracks, as well – “Sensitive Kind” and “I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me),” from 5 and Okie, respectively.

After the jump, we have full specs on the box set plus track listings, order links and more! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2014 at 11:55

Eric Clapton Goes to the “Crossroads” and Brings Friends On New CD, DVD, BD

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Eric Clapton - Crossroads

Eric Clapton is big on giving back.  The guitar god founded Antigua’s Crossroads Centre for the treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction in 1998, and in 2004, spearheaded the creation of the Crossroads Eric Clapton Guitar Festival to benefit the facility of the same name.  Since that first ’04 fest, Crossroads Festivals have taken place every three years, in 2007, 2010 and 2013.  Highlights from the 2013 shows, which took place on April 12 and 13 at New York’s famed Madison Square Garden, are now available on CD, DVD and Blu-ray Disc from Rhino.

Headlined of course by Clapton, the first Crossroads Festival was held in Dallas, Texas and endeavored to represent instrumentalists from the blues, rock, country and even jazz realms.  The festival featured such diverse guitar greats as Jeff Beck, J.J. Cale, Bo Diddley, B.B. King, Pat Metheny, John McLaughlin and Carlos Santana as well as singer-songwriters like Vince Gill, Sheryl Crow, James Taylor and the up-and-coming John Mayer, as well as bands like Booker T and the MG’s, Styx and ZZ Top.  The 2013 line-up welcomed back many artists who had played at that very first event (and subsequent ones) such as B.B. King, Booker T. Jones, Jeff Beck, John Mayer, Robert Randolph, Robert Cray, Vince Gill, Buddy Guy, Doyle Bramhall II, Jimmie Vaughan and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos.  Other performers included Keith Richards, Earl Klugh, Gary Clark Jr., Keith Urban, Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal.

The DVD and BD releases present 45 songs from both evenings of Crossroads 2013 in director Martyn Atkins’ concert film, playable in either stereo or 5.1 surround.  The CD edition boasts 29 tracks on two discs.  In all formats you’ll get Clapton’s performances of signature songs “Tears in Heaven,” “Sunshine of Your Love,” “Got to Get Better in a Little While” and some collaborations: “Lay Down Sally” with Gill, “Key to the Highway” with moonlighting Glimmer Twin Richards, “Why Does Love Got to Be So Bad” with the Allman Brothers Band, and “Gin House Blues” on which he accompanies Andy Fairweather-Low.  The DVD/BD releases add Clapton’s “Crossroads,” “Spider Jiving” with Fairweather-Low, “Big Road Blues” with Kurt Rosenwinkel, “Everyday I Have the Blues” with B.B. King, Jimmie Vaughan and The Robert Cray Band, and Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released” with The Band’s Robbie Robertson.

All-star duets are often among the most tantalizing aspects of benefit concert performances, and Crossroads 2013 is no exception.  In addition to the previously mentioned Clapton duets, the Crossroads CD includes such collaborations as John Mayer and Keith Urban on The Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down,” Mayer and Doyle Bramhall II on “Change It,” Vince Gill with Albert Lee on “I Ain’t Living Long Like This,” Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo’ on “Diving Duck Blues,” and a jam on the stone-cold Stax classic “Green Onions” with Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper joined by Keb’ Mo’, Blake Mills, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Albert Lee.  Of course, there’s more on the DVD/BD such as the same group doing Jones’ “Born Under a Bad Sign,” Booker T and Cropper’s “Green Onions,” and Gill, Urban and Lee doing The Rolling Stones’ “Tumbling Dice.”

After the jump: more on Crossroads, including full track listings and order links for each format! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 19, 2013 at 11:44

Tony Bennett’s “The Classics” Features Solo Hits Plus Streisand, Winehouse, Sinatra Duets

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Tony Bennett - The ClassicsFollowing the success of 2013’s Bennett/Brubeck: The White House Sessions Live 1962 and Live at the Sahara: Las Vegas 1964, Columbia Records, RPM Records and Legacy Recordings are starting off 2014 with a newly-assembled collection from Tony Bennett due on January 28.

The Classics, available in a 20-track standard edition or a 30-track deluxe configuration, features material personally selected by the 87-year old living legend.  In a statement provided by Legacy, Bennett confirmed that he kept two things in mind while compiling this celebratory project: “choosing songs that exemplify to the highest degree a timeless quality, while selecting a performance of those songs that present them in a very immediate and ‘live’ approach. I feel that songs I selected for The Classics absolutely meet both of these criteria.”

Both editions of The Classics open with “Because of You,” the artist’s first Columbia Records single and first chart-topping record.  It goes on to include the “solo tracks that I felt most closely represented the highest level of musical craftsmanship that has been my mandate as I have built my recording catalogue” and includes a number of recent duets, sung “with artists who I admire and have loved working with over the years.”  No rare or new-to-CD material is present.

After the jump, we have full details including the track listing for both versions! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

December 16, 2013 at 16:29

Back Tracks: John Mayer

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Paradise_Valley_cover,_by_John_MayerThis week saw the release of Paradise Valley, the sixth full-length album by singer/songwriter/guitarist John Mayer. The Connecticut-born performer remains one of the most intriguing figures in pop music since the dawn of the 2000s: educated at the prestigious Berklee College of Music, Mayer was the complete package for a generation – multifaceted in his musical talents (kind of an insane cross between James Taylor and Stevie Ray Vaughan), an unabashed encyclopedia of modern pop – and, as it happened, blessed with looks that would make ladies swoon and an off-the-wall sense of humor that would satiate the boyfriends who had to attend his concerts.

Mayer’s evolution has been almost unprecedented on the pop scene: he’s transitioned astoundingly from coffeehouse acoustic pop to muscular blues to laid-back country-folk in nearly 15 years as a major-label artist. And he’s had to adjust his public persona considerably after his sense of humor (and ladies’-man placement in the tabloids) threatened to overshadow his music.

But to this longtime fan who’s seen Mayer more than any other current pop artist, Paradise Valley finally finds John Mayer confident and musically stronger than he’s been since the release of his greatest achievement, the blues-pop Continuum in 2006. (He’s also, of course, come back from a potentially career-ending throat condition, which makes his rebound all that sweeter.) In honor of the new album, I’ve decided to take a Back Tracks-style look at Mayer’s discography; not many reissues abound, but there are some fun rarities we’ll talk about.

Keep reading after the jump to dive into the world of John Mayer!

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Written by Mike Duquette

August 22, 2013 at 14:03

Legacy Provides Relief for Japan

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Now here’s a surprise. iTunes, in concert with the major record labels, put together a 38-song compilation called Songs for Japan, the proceeds of which would go to relief funds for the ongoing crises in Japan following a massive earthquake and tsunami that left the country in a state of peril.

And now, Amazon has a listing for the compilation on CD from Legacy. (This two-disc set actually omits some of the tracks heard on the iTunes version, namely tracks by Madonna and David Guetta.) While it’s not a boon for collectors – collecting notable tracks by John Lennon, U2, Sting, Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen and almost every other famous rock artist one can think of – it’s certainly worth the $10 for a good cause, and we would be remiss if we didn’t pass on to our loyal readers that one can help by simply buying some music – something you and I likely do a lot!

Order Songs for Japan here and hit the jump for the track list.

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A Year-Old Reissue That Mayer May Not Be of Interest

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I sort of hesitate mentioning this on The Second Disc, but it does count as a reissue, even if it’s an obvious grab for holiday shoppers: Columbia is releasing an expanded edition of singer-songwriter John Mayer’s latest album, last year’s Battle Studies.

Depending on who you ask, Mayer is known as an engaging musician with guitar chops reminiscent of Stevie Ray Vaughan, or he’s a womanizing jerk who can be too smart or too verbose for his own good. (To this longtime fan, who has caught the man in concert some seven or eight times, he definitely looked more like the latter after that horrid Playboy interview earlier this year.) Battle Studies may not be his best work – particularly in the shadow of his previous LP, the excellent Continuum (2006) – but if this is what’s going to get Mayer the attention he deserves for his onstage presence instead of offstage antics, so be it.

The set, due October 5, packs the original album in with a bonus DVD of Mayer’s performance on VH-1 Storytellers and some solo acoustic performances from earlier in the year. Pre-order it here and check out the listings after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

August 30, 2010 at 14:03

Posted in John Mayer, News, Reissues