BTW - no Spotify link because there isn't one. Going to try to listen as well as I can off online samples!
This was an album released in 1970. It's the only studio album ever released by this blues rock back, and often thought of as Eric Clapton's greatest work. The album itself has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, so it's no wonder it picked up another one for this particular version. It's on many of the 'Greatest Album of All Time' charts, including ones for Rolling Stone and VH1.
This is the 6th release of the album, done in 2011 by UMC as a 40th Anniversary Remater. Originally on vinyl, this was 2 records, with 4 or so songs on each side.
This one's post Cream, and the songs are rooted in the Patti Boyd/George Harrison sadness on Eric' heart.
So, there we go - lots of history and accolades to take in. Let's get down to it now!
"I Looked Away" is the kick-off track. God I hate dealing with iTunes snippets. They never time them to the best parts of the song, and always snap out too soon. Here, at least, we're greeted immediately with a very familiar voice and sweet pop blues sound. No telling how this is as an opener, since I didn't hear the opening notes. Lyrically, clearly a blues song, with some heart hurting straight off the bat, even with that happy sounding drum set and guitar playing on.
So we know, it's in the title this time: "Bell Bottom Blues." I think I remember my mom singing this to me when I wore bell bottoms as they came back into style in the late 90's. Oh the good times of 6th Grade!! The songs slightly slower, and somehow maintains the old studio sound, even after the remaster attempt. It's just interesting in consideration.
"Keep On Growing" is an awesome summer day, even street fair song. I don't really know what makes me say that, but that's the immediate feel. If I'm hearing the word right, there's actually optimism here. Something's just slightly different here, as we get a more classic rock sound that lets you know what your listening to is from a different, even better, time.
The opening riff of "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out," or at least what this snippet lead off with, sounds just like "Oh Darlin'" from The Beatles. Wacky. The song itself, of course, has its very own sound that will tug on you big time if you're in a bad place. Man, this is blue unlike anything I've ever really experienced. It's like this excellent combo of BB King and The Beatles all at once.
"I Am Yours" takes just a slight little island sound with the bongos and high guitar picks here and there. The rest of the music remains rooted in the original genre, but the added elements do make it just a little different. Combined, it's a slightly romantic, in a sad way, song going out from the heart.
I think it's the recording style (as in, not mixed in a typical way) for "Anyday" that turns me off on it. Things are jumbled, as though nothing is on its own track (which is how we're used to hearing things). This works, sometimes, but for some reason it's not sitting right this time around. Dear lord, please don't let me ears be going new-age jaded, please!
"Key to the Highway" is a good classic one. Roll down the windows, crank it up loud, and drive - from the sounds of what I've got, this is just a lot of awesome guitar playing over a great beat for about 10 minutes. It tells its own story with every mile. Ah, there's the lyrics. Oh whatever, I said what I said and I'm not taking it back.
A cool twist in blues is when a singer can turn on the raspy voice and add some grit and real feelings to a song, even when that song's far more upbeat. This is what I'm hearing during "Tell The Truth." It's more of a jam song than a work of art, but damn are they into it.
"Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?" I mean, fantastic question, not to mention an honest as hell title. The sound of the song has the heart beating fast though - not nearly as slowly as I assumed it would be. It's almost like they're happy about asking it? The BPM here is off the charts compared to the rest of the album. My mind is all sorts of screwy with this one belting such a slick fast tune.
In a smokier blues number, we get "Have You Ever Loved A Woman?" Now, I've never seen a guy actually show this much emotion outside of a song itself, but if someone ever did feel this towards me, I'd be beyond honored. How would you ever turn someone down with this much emotion? The song's based in a blues piano line, and a singing guitar that has its very own part describing the underlying pain to the words.
"Little Wing" sort of sped by me, to be honest. I don't know where my attention went, but the sound was a little too familiar and a little too comfortable to make an impact. I suppose that can be a good thing though.
Next up is "It's Too Late." It's a steady rock-blues song about simply loosing the girl. The lines "She's Gone/Oh she's gone" overlap for about 5-7 repeats, making it very clear where the pain of the song stems from. This is a really simple, straight-forward blues song, and there's not much more you can ask for from it. Here's a performance of the song as done on the "Johnny Cash Show."
The final song is "Thorn Tree In The Garden," and compared to the rest, it's almost completely out of place on the album. The high energy, despite the blues songs, has been infectious and has created an album with a sound all its own. The slower ending is just a downer.
Added To My Playlist (or would be if Spotify had clearance for this):
- "Keep On Growing"
So, we're through one of the best albums of all time. Do I agree with the ranking lists? I mean, they've got a point - this is a fantastic piece of work. Is it going to be on my top of all time list? Eh, maybe not. But respect is given for sure when it's due, and it is certainly due in this instance. This is a masterful recording of songs with unexpected results to the ears.