Two aging guitar legends lay back in their own grooves.
While dogma keeps this writer from the proclamation of “Clapton is God,” the guitar legend has proven himself adept as a collaborator (see Cream; Derek and the Dominoes) and selector. He was the first white boy to dig Bob Marley and two of his biggest hits, “After Midnight” and “Cocaine,” came from JJ Cale, an Okie guitarist as slack, laconic and trenchant as Droopy Dog. So it’s only fitting that the two admiring friends finally record together, along with John Mayall, Derek Trucks and the late Billy Preston. Throughout The Road to Escondido, it’s almost impossible to parse not only whose searing lead is whose, but just who’s singing; Their styles dovetail succinctly. The production scrubs most of the dirt off, but it can’t dampen the fire of Clapton and Cale trading solos in an invigorating game of one-upmanship on “Heads in Georgia” and Cale’s old “Don’t Cry Sister.” And while “When This War is Over” is somewhat jaunty, it’s lyrically ham-fisted and forced; sonically similar, you wouldn’t call it the breeze.