Sunday, November 11, 2007


I think it's pretty cool that Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood are going to be doing some concerts together: my understanding is that these aren't co-headlining gigs. Rather, they're going to be playing together.

I think it's been impressive how both of these guys have had enduring careers through the '60s, '70s, '80s and even '90s.

After playing with The Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, Blind Faith and Derek & The Dominoes, Clapton in the '70s became a middle of the road mellow rocker, which was probably pretty appropriate for where he was at that time in his life. Phil Collins produced some of his '80s albums, which haven't aged well, but they pointed him towards the boomer adult contemporary market that VH1 mined so well at the time. Clapton's commercial peak probably came with 1989's Journeyman. John Mayer once told me that that was the best thing Clapton had ever done. I would disagree, but it was a huge album at the time. He followed it up with the Rush soundtrack, which included "Tears In Heaven," and then the Unplugged album and then his Babyface collab, "Change The World." He hasn't really made any records that I've been excited about since then, although I liked his Robert Johnson tribute albums.

Winwood is sort of easy to overlook, because he has a pretty laid back personality - he doesn't seem to have the charisma of many of his peers, although he has more talent than most of them. Not only is he a great singer and songwriter, he's incredible as a keyboardist and guitarist. Like Clapton, he was in some pretty cool bands: The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith, Ginger Baker's Airforce, and Traffic again before going solo. His solo career took off in the '80s, starting with Arc Of A Diver, on which he played every instrument himself. But his biggest album was Back In The High Life. Like Journeyman, it had a load of hits and videos, and seemed to bring him to a more "adult" phase of his career.

Unlike Clapton, Winwood didn't seem to mind the idea of reuniting with old bandmates, and in the mid-'90s he reunited Traffic with drummer/singer Jim Capaldi. I don't know if the album was that great, but I saw their tour, and I thought they were great.

But like Clapton, after a while, Winwood seemed to lose his direction a bit. At some point, VH1 moved on from playing new music from boomer artists, and no radio format would play thier new music anymore. In 2003, Winwood returned with a very Traffic-y album called About Time. I remember seeing him at the Austin City Limits festival that year and being blown away. (I'd seen Winwood do a club show a few years earlier, and wasn't too impressed). He was doing what he wanted, he had a good album of songs to perform, it was cool.

I saw some footage from Clapton and Winwood's set from the Crossroads festival, I thought it looked pretty hot. I may try to get these tickets - of course, they'll probably be out of my price range. But it would be cool to see them. I regreted missing the Cream reunion shows at the Garden a few years back, but I almost think I'd rather see this show than Cream.

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