It's like a cozy evening in with your two best mates.
Chris Jones 2009-05-21
Eric Clapton's millenium has seen him revisit many of his past glories. The Cream reunion gigs were a bona fide (if tense) treat while his pairings with BB King have yielded some easy going treats. Then, in 2008 he joined Steve Winwood on stage in New York and over two nights played a wide variety of old gems from which this double CD (and DVD) has been culled. Depending on whether you subscribe to the church of 'Slowhand' or consider him a reactionary guardian of something that wasn't his in the first place, this album will be a an easy ride through the past, or a yawnfest of epic proportions.
The album does hold many delights. Clapton's playing is as brimful of feeling as it ever was while it never strays too far from his purist path. What does invoke the magic is the combination with Winwood's voice and playing. Democratically sharing both soloing and vocal duties means that Live At Madison Square Gardens is as much a treat for fans of the ex-Spencer Davis prodigy. Three Winwood numbers (Glad, Dear Mr Fantasy and No Face, No Name, No Number) leave you praying for a Traffic reunion. Of course you get a few Blind Faith numbers. And given the abortive nature of the 'supergroup''s lifespan it's good to hear such under-appreciated material getting a new lick of paint.
But three Hendrix numbers (well, two plus Buddy Miles' fantastic Them Changes) and two by JJ Cale tell you all you really need to know about this prime slice of rock at its most classic. The guitars are as important as the voices, and the vibe is relaxed, respectful and never overly frenetic. It's like a cozy evening in with your two best mates, and none the worse for it.