I Still Do
Served up with what has become a trademark nod to coasting – I’d call it a mix of nonchalance and lethargy but to use the word ‘mix’ implies actual work – the biggest surprise on this album is that the title doesn’t have a question mark.
The Armani Bluesman has had a truly woeful last 30 years as summed up on this howler of a late-career retrospective and were it not for 2013’s Old Sock (and I guess the albums before that in 2010 and 2005) this would stick out as almost profoundly lazy.
We kick off with a slight ray of hope. Alabama Woman Blues puts 1994’s From The Cradle back in mind (actually not a great record but the last attempt at anything near a great record by a man once referred to as ‘God’) but it stumbles along and loses its way, as if Clapton nods off mid-tune. Then we get the requisite J.J. Cale cover, polite and ultimately redundant. And idiotic, safe, white, horrid covers of standards. Which has been Clapton’s trick across this last decade of recording. I’ll Be Seeing You is his latest hint that he might be retiring. When we’ve had every clue of how tiring he is since, roughly, 1978.
There’s that other hint of blues power with Stones In My Passway, but again, Clapton covering Robert Johnson is as done to death as Clapton covering Cale. And it’s only about as good as a Thursday Night, Blues Club effort from some local accountant with stars in their eyes and delusions powering the soul. It also can’t make up for the embarrassment that is Catch The Blues or the Pilgrim-esque I Will Be There.
He’s 71, hasn’t had to work a day in his life past 1968 and his longevity and seemingly decent health, coupled with this blatant inability to summon anything even vaguely resembling inspiration is insulting in the year when we’ve lost so many talented ones already.
I say this as a one-time fan. I always want to believe that Clapton has it in him – that he could turn on the fire one more time. Clearly, listening to this, I believe that more than he does. This is just so fucking boring. Another in a long list of great shames attached to a name that still not only opens doors but closes them in the face of so many others.