Eric Clapton marries something old, something new, something ‘blues’ on new studio project
Rock icon Eric Clapton, 71, has reunited with famed producer Glyn Johns (Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Eagles, The Who) for the guitarist’s 23rd studio album, I Still Do. The new release via Clapton’s own Bushbranch Records/Surfdog Records features a collection of 12 songs including original material written by Clapton as well as standards and covers of classics by Bob Dylan and Robert Johnson. Clapton and Johns previously worked together on 1977’s Slowhand, which topped charts worldwide and went three-times platinum. “This was a long and overdue opportunity to work with Glyn Johns again, and also, incidentally, the fortieth anniversary of ‘Slowhand,’” states Clapton in a news release posted on EricClapton.com.
In a video preview of the album carried on RollingStone.com, Clapton and Johns discuss their latest collaboration with British actor and TV host Paul Whitehouse. Clapton reveals the inspiration behind the album's title is a reference to a visit he paid his aunt before she died. He thanked her for putting up with him when he was a “difficult boy,” to which she replied, “I like you, and I still do.” Johns explains that Clapton’s guitar playing is driven by emotion rather than calculation.
“The thing about Eric’s guitar playing for me has always been that he’s not one of the guitar players that sits and works things out. It comes literally as an emotive response as he’s playing,” says Johns. “So, therefore, his playing in my view goes straight from his heart to his fingers. It doesn’t go via his brain.” The producer adds that while guitarists such as George Harrison “worked everything out to the most intimate degree,” Clapton can do three takes of the same thing and make each sound completely different.”
The I Still Do track list opens with the Leroy Carr blues standard, ‘Alabama Woman Blues.’ ‘Can’t Let You Do It’ is one of two JJ Cale compositions, and ‘I Will Be There’ featuring “Angelo Mysterioso” has caused a stir as to whether or not the song is a recording Clapton did with George Harrison. The late Beatle often used the pseudonym when wishing to appear anonymously on collaborative projects. ‘Spiral’ and ‘Catch The Blues’ are two of Clapton’s self-penned tunes. The former is also an animated music video.
Other standout tracks include ‘Stones In My Passway,’ which is Clapton’s tribute to blues giant Robert Johnson, whom the guitarist has called “the most important blues singer that ever lived.” Dylan’s ‘I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine’ was originally released on the legendary troubadour’s 1967 studio album, John Wesley Harding, and JJ Cale’s ‘Somebody's Knockin’’ is a track Clapton previously performed as the opener from Slowhand at 70, his 2015 concert film and live album.
I Still Do closes with ‘I’ll Be Seeing You,’ the immortal jazz standard from the short-lived 1938 Broadway musical “Right This Way.” The song’s been covered by more than 50 artists—perhaps most notably by Billie Holliday in 1944. Standard CD, vinyl, and digital album formats are expanded as vacuum-tube USB deluxe editions that feature two bonus tracks (‘Lonesome’ and ‘Freight Train’). The 45-minute interview with Clapton and Johns is also included along with behind-the-scenes clips of the recording sessions and live performances.
Watch the official animated music video for ‘Spiral,’ a featured track from Eric Clapton’s 23rd studio album, I Still Do.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Eric Clapton was born March 30, 1945, in Ripley, Surrey, England. After emerging in 1963 with The Yardbirds, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s only three-time inductee went on to star in Cream, Blind Faith, and Derek and the Dominoes.
* The artist often referred to as one of, if not “the,” most influential guitarist of all time ranks No. 2 (behind only Jimi Hendrix) on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
* Clapton is associated with some of the greatest rock classics of all time including ‘Sunshine of Your Love,’ a cover of Robert Johnson's ‘Crossroads,’ and ‘Layla. He is also credited with bringing reggae to the mainstream with a version of Bob Marley's ‘I Shot the Sheriff.’
* Following the 1991 accidental death of his son, Conor, Clapton expressed his grief in the song ‘Tears in Heaven,’ a track from the 1992 live album release, Unplugged. The LP topped the charts in the U.S. and several other countries, winning three Grammy Awards and achieving diamond, multi-platinum, or platinum certification all over the world. Total sales exceed more than 26 million copies worldwide.
* Clapton has earned 18 Grammy Awards and the Brit Award for Outstanding Contribution to Music. In 2004, the Queen of England awarded him Britain’s Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to music.
* As a recovering alcoholic and drug addict, Clapton founded the Crossroads Centre on Antigua, a medical facility for recovering substance abusers. Since 1999, Clapton has also hosted the Crossroads Guitar Festival—a series of music festivals and benefit concerts to benefit the Crossroads Centre.
* The cover art for I Still Do is a full-color, signed illustration of Clapton by Sir Peter Blake. The English pop artist also co-designed The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album jacket.