Slowhand Borrows the Devil’s Touch
If you canâ€šÃ„Ã´t place the name but it sounds very familiar, then youâ€šÃ„Ã´ve probably heard the tale of Robert Johnson. Lonely and tortured, itâ€šÃ„Ã´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, Johnsonâ€šÃ„Ã´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 Claptonâ€šÃ„Ã´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 Johnsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s faster tunes like the ragtime fun of â€šÃ„ÃºTheyâ€šÃ„Ã´re Red Hotâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and the swinginâ€šÃ„Ã´ â€šÃ„ÃºLast Fair Deal Gone Down,â€šÃ„Ã¹ but the real bread and butter of this record is Claptonâ€šÃ„Ã´s ability to capture Johnsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s pure and hollow sorrow on the straight blues tracks. His guitar painfully moans on the opening â€šÃ„ÃºWhen You Got a Good Friend,â€šÃ„Ã¹ then he nails Johnsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s empty vocals on â€šÃ„ÃºKind Hearted Woman Blues.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Claptonâ€šÃ„Ã´s gem is â€šÃ„ÃºHellhound on my Trail,â€šÃ„Ã¹ 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 devilâ€šÃ„Ã´s touch, Johnsonâ€šÃ„Ã´s music will never be duplicated but Claptonâ€šÃ„Ã´s work is an excellent homage to the legend for fans of both artists.