It appears that Eric Clapton had more Robert Johnson in his blood than he thought – or perhaps it was planned this way…
But I have for a very long time liked what Eric Clapton liked, the Delta Blues, and in particular Robert Johnson, the Delta bluesman who would be more myth than fact if it were not for the incomparable legacy of recordings we were lucky enough to be left to posterity. So it was therefore with some trepidation (and the faint hope that I might actually like it) that I came to hear 2004's Me and Mr. Johnson (Reprise, 2004). Call me prejudiced, but I was right. Immaculately recorded, perfectly played, I hated it.
This compilation of 22 Cream BBC tracks from 1966-1968 marked a major addition to the group's discography, particularly as they released relatively little product during their actual lifetime. All of but two of these cuts ("Lawdy Mama" and the 1968 version of "Steppin' Out," which had appeared on Eric Clapton's Crossroads box) were previously unreleased, and although many of these had made the round on bootlegs, the sound and presentation here is unsurprisingly preferable. As for actual surprises, there aren't many. It's a good cross section of songs from their studio records, though a couple, "Steppin' Out" and "Traintime," only appeared on live releases, and some of these BBC takes actually predate the release and recording of the album versions, which makes them of historical interest for intense Cream fans.
Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett assembled an all-star group of "friends" in 1969 for a weeklong tour of England, a legendary excursion that would produce On Tour With Eric Clapton, one of rock's most powerful and enduring live albums. Clocking in at a mere 40 minutes, the original left fans wanting more for decades. THE WAIT IS OVER - Rhino Handmade delivers with a four-disc deluxe reissue expanded with more than three hours of unreleased roof-raising, hickory-smoked rock 'n' soul. The set, which comes packaged in a mock road case, contains Delaney & Bonnie & Friends' complete performance at London's Royal Albert Hall, plus a composite of the next night's performances at Colston Hall in Bristol, and both the early and late shows from the tour's final stop at Fairfield Halls in Croydon. Along with the Bramletts, the touring band showcased on these discs includes guitarists Eric Clapton and Dave Mason, bassist Carl Radle, drummer Jim Gordon, organist Bobby Whitlock, Jim Price and Bobby Keys on horns, percussionist Tex Johnson, and singer Rita Coolidge.
Of the Three 'Kings' of the blues (BB, Albert and Freddy), Freddy King is perhaps the least well known these days. He enjoyed cross-over success with the white rock audiences of the 70s (hitting with albums for Cotillion, RSO and Shelter and touring extensively - his 'live' LP for German label Crosscut is about the closest thing to heavy metal blues imaginable). Yet his death from hepatitis in 1976 robbed Freddy of the kind of acclaim that the current blues revival has given BB, Albert and John Lee Hooker. There was a time, though, in the mid-'60s when his singles were among the most influential in blues, particularly for British and European audiences. His instrumental singles Hideaway and Drivin' Sideways were issued on Sue and covered by every white blues group that knew what was really happening on the R&B scene. Those two sides plus classics like (The Welfare) Turns It's Back On You, See See Baby, The Stumble and San-Ho-Zay were covered by the likes of Eric Clapton, John Mayall, Peter Green, Albert Collins and Chicken Shack.