JJ Cale & Eric Clapton The Road to Escondido
CD Review by Mark Witner
February 2007

Track listing:
1. Danger 2. Heads in Georgia 3. Missing Person 4. When This War Is Over
5. Sporting Life Blues 6. Dead End Road 7. It's Easy 8. Hard to Thrill
9. Anyway the Wind Blows 10. Three Little Girls 11. Don't Cry Sister
12. Last Will and Testament 13. Who Am I Telling You? 14. Ride the River

Label: Reprise / Wea / Release Date: November 7, 2006

Surprisingly, this is the first recording to feature legendary guitar maestros JJ Cale and Eric Clapton together on the same project. Cale has always had an enormous impact on Clapton's sound and wrote 2 of his early hits "After Midnight," from the first Clapton LP and "Cocaine," from 1978's "Slowhand." Now almost 30 years later, the two seasoned musicians have joined forces to record "The Road to Escondido," a breezy collection of tasty, down-home-style blues and rockabilly. Cale, who was initially slated to write and produce the album, decided to yield his axe and make it a collaborative effort, so production duties were turned over to Clapton's longtime producer/collaborator Simon Climie. Although Climie's mix may seem a bit too slick and polished for the duo's style of rootsy, blues-based music, it does work and is reminiscent of Clapton's more soulful output from the 1970s.

Cale wrote 11 of the 14 songs on the disc and brought along several members of his backup band to perform on various tracks. There are also cameos featuring familiar names like Steve Jordan, Pino Palladino, Albert Lee, Derek Trucks, John Mayer and the late Billy Preston in some of his last sessions.

This Clapton/Cale collaboration is certainly long overdue and makes for some fine listening. It has a relaxed and casual feel throughout but is by no means sluggish. It features two of the best musicians on the planet sharing the same space and enjoying each other's company, so for that reason alone "The Road to Escondido" is definitely a winner.