Tunes from The Last Waltz

The Last Waltz – best concert film of all time? Certainly right up there. When I stumble upon it on TV, like I did tonight, there’s no way I can turn away.

Thanksgiving 1976. The Band. Bob Dylan. Van Morrison. Neil Young. Dr. John. Joni Mitchell. Muddy Waters. Eric Clapton. Neil Diamond. Ronnie Wood. Ringo Starr. Ronnie Hawkins. Paul Butterfield.

Still such a thrill to watch.  Here’s the last song of the show, as Dylan leads The Band and all the guests in his own tune, “I Shall Be Released”…

Oh hell, let me add a few other tunes…

The Band w/ Neil Diamond
“Dry Your Eyes”

The Band w/ Joni Mitchell


The Band w/ Muddy Waters
“Mannish Boy”

Ick’s Picks (Week VIII): JJ Cale’s ‘Roll On’

Pumping out these Ick’s Picks every week is making this year fly by. Week eight already? Can someone please tell me how we’re almost in March?? Thankfully, it is my favorite month: Cactus League baseball, a beer festival, and my anniversary. Oh wait, let me reorder, my wife reads this, you know. March is my favorite month: MY ANNIVERSARY, and yeah, that Spring Training and beer festival thingy is all right too, whatever.

That said, this week’s pick is the new album by JJ Cale. There weren’t any releases this week that had me jumping up and down in excitement, so I decided to take a listen to JJ’s new one, because he’s written some seriously solid tunes: “After Midnight”, “Cocaine”, “Call Me The Breeze”, and “Travelin’ Light”.  These were the four JJ Cale songs I was familiar with due to their covers by Eric Clapton, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Widepsread Panic, respectively. And after hearing the originals over the years, Cale’s versions were just as solid, and a tad more laid back, which suited my style.

I’ve listened to Roll On this week about five times. It’s a well produced mash-up of roots / acoustic / jazz sounds that are all pleasant to the ear. There’s nothing that absolutely blows me away, though I do have three favorites: the guitar on “Cherry Street”; the undefinable groove of “Fonda-Lina, whose namesake has “her bosoms hangin’ over the window sill / It’s a story as old as Jesus / Fonda-lina has a void to fill.”; and “Old Friend”, which faces the passing of time from the wise perspective of Cale’s 70 years: “I hear all the old folks are gone / I guess we’re the ones now / That’s the way it goes / those crowded days are behind us now.”

Clapton appears on the title track, and the legendary Jim Keltner plays the drums on some tracks, but other than that, Cale handles pretty much all the instruments by himself. It’s a solid piece of work, and probably an album that I’ll appreciate more as time goes on (like a lot of them seem to be). It would also suit me well to dip into some of Cale’s older records. There a reason he’s been covered so many times over the years.

Buy Roll On.

Links: JJ Cale’s Official Site |MySpace

Here’s a stellar live version of “Call Me The Breeze”, with JJ and Mr. Clapton (sweet guitar, Eric)…

Blues from the Rush Soundtrack

Must be in a Bluuuues kinda mood. I’ve had the soundtrack to the movie Rush since it came out in December 1991 (Jason Patric, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Gregg Allman as – what else – the drug dealer). Eric Clapton scored the movie, and contributed some extra songs too, most notably “Tears In Heaven“, written for his son Conor, who died tragically in March 1991 from falling out of his mother’s 53rd story apartment window in Manhattan. He was 4 years old.

Eric invited Buddy Guy to help out with this one – Willie Dixon’s “Don’t Know Which Way To Go”, an 11 minute immersion into everything that is great about the blues.


Clapton Joins the Bluesbreakers, Mind-Blowing Solos Ensue

This is from John Mayall’s 70th birthday gig a few years ago. Buddy Whittington (from the Bluesbreakers) and Eric Clapton do things to their Fender Stratocasters that mere mortals like us can only dream of. Amazing. And a trombone solo to boot!

I just finished Pattie Boyd’s autobiography, and I’m just cracking open Clapton’s. I knew that drugs and drink played a role in Eric’s life, but holy schmoly batman, that is excess!

Yer Blues by the Dirty Mac

Since I signed up for Netflix a few months ago, I’ve been catching up on all the essential music movies of the past. The latest DVD to hit my doorstep is the The Rolling Stones – Rock and Roll Circus. Here’s just a little portion of rock & roll history from the 1968 film…

The song: “Yer Blues”
The band: The Dirty Mac (Eric Clapton, guitar; John Lennon, vocals, guitar; Keith Richards, bass; Mitch Mitchell, drums).

Not too shabby of a lineup, eh?