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Ghost Canyon

Title - 'The Road to Escondido' (Reprise)
Artist - JJ Cale & Eric Clapton

I wasn't sure what to expect from this collaborative CD, but it turns out to be a lot less than what it could've been. I think that neither Clapton nor Cale would be quite who they are today without the other guy, so the links between their careers should have meant a fascinating and enjoyable pairing. But Road to Escondido isn't as good as past Clapton duet albums (the BB King thing was better), and it's not even 2006's best duo CD within this genre (I liked the Knopfler-Harris CD more). The problem is that the songs are just so lifeless for the most part. The lone exceptions are "Dead End Road," "Anyway the Wind Blows," and maybe one or two others. Otherwise the songs are just slow, shuffling blandness. (I guess one other exception might be one good slow song, "Three Little Girls.") I guess I shouldn't be completely surprised by the laidback nature of this music, since Mr. Cale's output over the past two decades has been like this. It's just that the Clapton-King CD was so full of vitality, I just didn't expect this new album to be DOA. It becomes a self-parody at times, as on the lyrics to "Hard to Thrill" - "...nothing really moves me anymore." Or on "Last Will & Testament," when the guys sing "I'm older than most... It won't be long now before I'm a ghost." By the way, the singing is part of the problem -- the two men sing way too often in unison, when it would be much better if they alternated singing verses and then only joined up on the choruses. Singing together, they just sound like too old guys mumbling along. Saying the whole thing is lackluster would be a major understatement. Getting old doesn't have to sap the life from you musically. Just listen to the Noo Hoo CD, 'Endless Wire,' which is as vital and vigorous as anything Pete & Roger have made in three decades (and much better than this Road taken, sorry).