The Road to Escondido

Two years ago, Eric Clapton sought out J.J. Cale to produce a record, and so Clapton made the trek down towards Escondido in Southern California (near where Cale lives these days), to work on the album. Clapton, of course, has had great success in the past with Cale-penned tunes like "After Midnight" and "Cocaine" and significant chunk of Clapton's sound as a solo performer could be traced to Cale's influence. And although the two had shared the stage, they've never recorded together.

So they got underway with the album. But Clapton came in one day and announced that instead of a Cale-produced Clapton album, both guitarists would share headlining credit for the album. As it turned out, Cale would write eleven of the album's fourteen tracks, although a couple are remakes or rewrites of older tunes. Clapton wrote one, while the duo also did one old blues tune and one song co-written by Clapton and John Mayer (who also performs on the track).

The album kicks off auspiciously with the song "Danger," featuring the late keyboardist Billy Preston in one of his last sessions. The track chugs along in that trademark laid-back Cale groove until the guitar soloing kicks in, and suddenly, it's the '70s again with Clapton giving his playing a spicy kick.

On other songs, Cale and Clapton sing together like long-long twins--Cale taking the gravelly low part and Clapton singing the harmony. It sounds like the two were having a hell of a lot of fun making this record, and the exuberant feeling is infectious. When you add some welcome guitar-hero glory on top, this makes for an album not to be missed.

Mike Sauter, WYEP Music Director