Wednesday, February 17, 2010


The new Rolling Stone has a cover article about guitar virtuosos Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. The two hang out in Beck's sixteenth century British estate and shoot the bull, jam a little on some vintage guitars, and reminisce about the swinging sixties when they were young gunslingers. They were enemies back then--Beck took over lead guitar when Clapton left the Yardbirds--but they always had a weary respect for one another. Both loved the Blues, and both mastered a tasty melodic line that couldn't be matched. Clapton went on to Cream, the power trio of heavy blues rock with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker, and then Derek and the Dominoes, with another awesome axeman Duane Allman. Beck formed the Jeff Beck Group, with Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, and then went on to make a couple award-winning solo albums, Blow by Blow and Wired, and collected numerous Grammies and accolades. Still, this "guitarist's guitarist" never received the mainstream popularity of Eric Clapton, whose radio friendly pop hits ("I Shot the Sheriff," "You Look Wonderful Tonight," and "Tears from Heaven," to name a few) secured a place in the pop pantheon. Not to mention "Layla."

Eric Clapton didn't always dress like a lawyer.

Back in the day, these players were fierce. They could shred if they wanted, and rip through the time/space continuum at will, but they always played true to the music. Blues was their inspiration. Lately, these lions in winter have made peace. They've played a few gigs, and here is a clip from a show this past weekend, Valentine's Day, in fact, at the O2 in London. Here they play a languidly soulful rendition of "Moon River." It might be hard to believe the fiery gods of heavy psychedelic blues would touch this song, but not as strange as you might think once you give it a listen. They play it real cool...

And in case you miss them playing the straight up blues, here's a clip from 1981 with Beck and Clapton jamming on a blues classic that's been covered by James Brown, The Band, Joe Cocker, and Clapton himself--not to mention every other aspiring blues player worth his salt--a rave-up written by Don D. Robey and Joe Medwick Veasey,"Further On Up The Road."

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