Three years since Clapton’s last studio outing Old Sock, Slowhand returns with a very down to earth and laid back album which in many ways is more of a successor to 2010’s Clapton than Old Sock was. Containing a collection of hand picked blues covers alongside original Clapton numbers, I Still Do sees Clapton retain the title of England’s all time greatest blues player, a title he will never lose.
Alabama Woman Blues is the opening track and upon first listen it could have been taken from either 461 Ocean Boulevard or There’s One In Every Crowd. The slide guitar parts in particular are very reminiscent of those two 1970’s albums and if it wasn’t for Clapton’s rugged and time weathered vocals you’d think this track was recorded during that period of his career. It’s a superb album opener that’s followed by the JJ Cale song Can’t Let You Do It which Clapton sings magnificently. It’s no secret that Cale was a huge influence on Clapton from his mid-1970’s period right up to the current day, with the two of them recording their 2006 album The Road To Escondido and not to mention Clapton’s 2014 tribute album The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale a year after Cale passed away. I Will Be There follows and features Angelo Mysterioso in an unspecified role. Prior to the album’s release, speculation was rampant as to whether it was a posthumous performance by George Harrison or even a performance by his son Dhani, however after a close listen it appears Ed Sheeran is the guest vocalist. The collaboration may be a surprise to many but his voice compliments Clapton’s exceptionally well and the two performed the song live together when Clapton played at the Budokan in Japan on the 13th April of this year.
- Alabama Woman Blues
- Can’t Let You Do It
- I Will Be There
- Catch The Blues
- Cypress Grove
- Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day
- Stones In My Passway
- I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine
- I’ll Be Alright
- Somebody’s Knockin’
- I’ll Be Seeing You
Spiral comes next which is an original Clapton number, although co-written with Andy Fairweather Low and Simon Climie. It’s a wonderful song which according to album producer Glyn Johns, contains lyrics Clapton made up on the spot whilst recording the song. Another original number follows in the form of Catch The Blues which is a more laid back attempt with a more unplugged feel to it. The backing vocals performed by Michelle John and Sharon White sing alongside Clapton and the electric guitar solo mid-way through has a George Harrison feel to it, not in terms of playing but tone. Very Living In The Material World-esque. Cypress Grove is one of the finest recordings on the album and pays homage to Skip James’ original version whilst at the same time sounding like the beautifully played modern cover that it is. Clapton’s vocals in particular are very reminiscent of those found on his spectacular 2004 Robert Johnson album Me & Mr. Johnson. It’s a wonderful track and definitely a highlight on the entire album. Things then get more laid back with a beautiful cover of Little Man, You’ve Had A Busy Day which was originally recording by Elsie Carlisle in 1934.
Stones In My Passway is a Robert Johnson cover and a song most Clapton fans will know he played during the Sessions For Robert J DVD documentary released in 2004. This version, however, contains a full band and sounds magnificent as a result. Clapton has a natural ability of taking a Robert Johnson song and turning it into something fantastic and that’s exactly what happens here. His vocals also step up in quality, not that they were bad before, but singing a Robert Johnson song obviously brings the best out of him. The most surprising song on the album is a cover of the Bob Dylan’s I Dreamt I Saw St. Augustine. It’s rare to find a cover of a Dylan song that stands up to the original yet Clapton achieves that here beautifully. Hendrix is said to have wanted to cover the song at some point but instead settled for All Along The Watchtower from the same album, 1967’s John Wesley Harding. The next song is I’ll Be Alright which contains some really nice slide guitar playing but the overall instrumentation is what stands out the most on this track. The whole album sounds great musically but I’ll Be Alright really hits the spot. The same can be said for Somebody’s Knockin’ which is the second JJ Cale song that features on the album. Henry Spinetti drives the song forward from behind the kit alongside the deliciously dirty riff played by both the guitar and bass. Sublime. The final song on the album is I’ll Be Seeing You which, upon first listen, has the same kind of feel and vibe that Rockin’ Chair had from Clapton’s 2010 album. It’s a beautiful way to end the album.
Overall I Still Do is a very good album and makes up for the slightly disappointing Old Sock. The selection of songs the album contains are exceptional and each one manages to give you a taste of the different musical chapters from Clapton’s long and prestigious solo career.