Musically speaking, it’s no secret that Eric Clapton’s
first love is the Blues. It’s a form he returns to
repeatedly throughout his long and productive career.
“Sessions for Robert J: Eric Clapton” is a DVD filmed and
released during 2004, under the Warner Reprise Video
label. In this film of about 90 minutes, Clapton (1945 – )
pays tribute to his “main man,” legendary blues man
Robert Johnson (1911-1938), by performing and/or
rehearsing some 14-odd Johnson songs, either alone
in his hotel room or with some top musicians.
Filmed in London, England and in Dallas, Texas, the
in-studio rehearsals feature guitarist Doyle Bramhall II
(1968 – ), drummer Steve Gadd (1945 – ), pianist
Chris Stainton (1944 – ), organist/R&B icon
Billy Preston (1946-2006), and bassist Nathan East
(1955 – ).
Whether on stage or in the studio, Clapton is a generous
team player. Although he may be the biggest “star,”
he never demands the spotlight or attempts to upstage
any of his fellow musicians. In fact, he doesn’t need to,
as his playing speaks for itself.
This disc was an obvious homage to Robert Johnson;
however, I found many of the songs and their
performances to be cut from the same cloth, which
became tiresome after a while. Clapton’s intentions
and the integrity behind his efforts are without question
and I still feel privileged to witness music making
by this icon, who clearly takes the Blues to heart. Truth
be told, I found the Clapton interviews that were placed
between the songs to be more enjoyable than the
performances, as I gained insight regarding his career
and how it has been influenced by Robert Johnson’s music.
The bonus feature was short, consisting of approximately
four to five minutes of “behind the scenes” footage of
this project. This disc is obviously worthwhile for
Clapton fans, especially those wishing to learn about
an aspect of his music that is not regularly publicized.