Eric Clapton – Me and Mr. Johnson

Slowhand Borrows the Devil’s Touch

If you can’t place the name but it sounds very familiar, then you’ve probably heard the tale of Robert Johnson. Lonely and tortured, it’s told that Johnson sold his soul to Satan in exchange for the ability to play the guitar better than any man alive. Johnson then roamed the land followed by hellhounds and demons, stopping to share his dark, tormented songs and haunting vocals in blues halls and back alleys. Fact or fiction, Johnson’s story is part of the reason he is widely known as the greatest blues musician ever, and it was this account that led a young Eric Clapton to pick up his first Robert Johnson record and discover the music that would influence his every song. Me and Mr. Johnson is Clapton’s thank you to his hero, a fourteen song tribute of Johnson covers played almost entirely true to the originals. Clapton sizzles through some of Johnson’s faster tunes like the ragtime fun of “They’re Red Hot” and the swingin’ “Last Fair Deal Gone Down,” but the real bread and butter of this record is Clapton’s ability to capture Johnson’s pure and hollow sorrow on the straight blues tracks. His guitar painfully moans on the opening “When You Got a Good Friend,” then he nails Johnson’s empty vocals on “Kind Hearted Woman Blues.” Clapton’s gem is “Hellhound on my Trail,” on which his grief-stricken howl and ghostly slide guitar wail provide as chilly a feeling as Johnson could have ever hoped. With or without the devil’s touch, Johnson’s music will never be duplicated but Clapton’s work is an excellent homage to the legend for fans of both artists.

By Ryan Lewis Posted in Reviews