It's the end of the first week of November. Halloween is over. The mid-term election is over. Thanksgiving is still two weeks away. What does all of this mean?
CHRISTMAS IS HERE!!!
How did this happen? Didn't we just start 2018 a few days ago? Okay, I can deal with Christmas being around the corner BUT what I can't deal with is Christmas music starting now. And yet, that's here, too. Sigh!
I hear some radio stations have begun their annual barrage of non-stop Christmas music. Fine. No problem with me. I can deal with that by not listening to those stations. I also hear that some of the new Christmas albums have already dropped. That's cool, too. No one I like would ever put out an album of holiday tunes, would they? Phew!!
So one day, I'm perusing the internet. Nothing unusual about that. I'm checking out what's new in the music world. Hmmmm....here's a new album by my man Eric Clapton. Ummmm....it's a Christmas album.
I can't believe this. Christmas albums are for guys like Kenny G., Neil Diamond and Rod Stewart. E.C. would never do this, would he? Oh man, this might worse news than the night Trump was elected President. It's been two years and I'm not over that. Now I have to deal with this. It looks like I may have to hide under the blankets...again. I may need to re-enter therapy. Sigh.
The word on the street was that Eric had some Christmas songs that he liked. He wanted to record them and give them a bluesy feel. Hmmm...I love the blues. It's possible I can get behind this project except for that Christmas song thing. I like to think I have an open mind, although in reality, I really don't. But I guess after being in the Clapton fan club for five decades, I owe him a listen, right? I owe it to myself. I owe it to journalism. I really don't want to be that 'Keep off the grass' guy. Pfffft.
I had my first listen a few weeks ago. My first thoughts were this doesn't suck. For me, that's a great review of Christmas music. It's wasn't as cheesy as I thought it would be. It also wasn't as bluesy as I thought it would be. I could hear influences from the different stages of Clapton's career.
A few tunes were a reminder of his early solo/Derek and the Dominoes stage. A couple others feel like his late 80's August/Journeyman era. There's a little country, a little reggae and even a standard sounding version of "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas." And yes, some really good Blues...both licks and entire tunes.
I came away from that first listen thinking this is pretty decent and I want to hear it again. I also came away from it needing to hear some Clapton classics...which I did. Layla still had me on my knees.
I've now listened to the album three times. I admit, it's grown on me. Out of the fourteen tunes, I really enjoy half of them. Hey, for me, for a Christmas album, that's quite an endorsement.
There are some excellent musicians on this record. Doyle Bramhill, who has has played with Clapton for years, adds his guitar. Legendary sideman Jim Keltner is on drums. Clapton even puts his wife and daughter to work on backing vocals.
There is one song that stands out. "Christmas Tears" is a cover from blues guitar legend Freddie King. From the first note, you'll be bopping your head, tapping your feet and playing air guitar. That's all you can ask from any song, much less a Christmas song. If you have to hear one song this holiday season, make it "Christmas Tears."
We're still more than six weeks from Christmas. One of my core beliefs is no Christmas music until December 23rd. I know...bah hum bug...yeah, yeah. But if you just have to hear it earlier, make this the one Christmas album you play over and over. For me, that's the highest recommendation I can give.
So on behalf of Eric Clapton and myself, we'd like to wish you a "Happy Xmas"
Related Post: I hate Christmas music
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