Title - The Lady In The Balcony: Lockdown Sessions
Artist - Eric Clapton
For those unaware, Eric Clapton returns with a remarkable new release, The Lady In The Balcony: Lockdown Sessions on November 12th, 2021.
Available via Mercury Studios on multiple formats, the 17 songs find Clapton and longtime bandmates Nathan East (Bass and Vocals), Steve Gadd (Drums) and Chris Stainton (Keyboards) performing acoustic renditions of Clapton standards and an assortment of other numbers encompassing blues, country and rarified originals.
The project was initiated as the result of the forced cancellation of Eric Clapton’s concerts scheduled for May 2021 at the Royal Albert Hall due to the continued disruption caused by the pandemic.
Looking for a viable alternative and hoping to keep his options open, he reconvened with his band to the English countryside and staged a concert in the presence of only the participants themselves while letting the cameras roll. (Clapton’s wife Melia, the sole outside observer inspired the Sessions title).
The mostly acoustic set was envisioned to be like an Eric Clapton Unplugged II, but not quite, as three songs are played with electric guitars.
The result became far more than simply a sequence of greatest hits. Rather, it’s one of the most intimate and authentic performances of Clapton’s entire career, an offering flush with real insight into the make-up of his indelible catalogue.
1. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out
2. Golden Ring
3. Black Magic Woman
4. Man of the World
6. After Midnight
7. Bell Bottom Blues
8. Key to the Highway
9. River of Tears
10. Rock Me Baby
11. Believe in Life
12. Going Down Slow
14. Tears in Heaven
15. Long Distance Call
16. Bad Boy
17. Got My Mojo Working
This charismatically translucent new album opens on Clapton’s love for Vaudeville-blues styling within Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out and Golden Ring (a song written by Clapton in the emotional transition year between Pattie Boyd’s official divorce from George Harrison and his own marriage to Boyd in 1979) and backs those up seamlessly with his cover of the 1968 Fleetwood Mac classics Black Magic Woman, the gently amiable Man of the World, and then a beautifully dulcet song entitled Kerry (which is actually dedicated to Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green).
Up next is a J.J. Cale track, first released in 1966 and which Clapton later covered for his eponymous album in 1970, here sung with lower adversity and less urgency, After Midnight and that is itself followed by his unrequited love song, the Derek and the Dominos-sung Bell Bottom Blues, the Charlie Segar, piano-led, blues beauty Key to the Highway, the quietly reimagined River of Tears and then comes a mid-tempo B.B. King cut, Rock Me Baby.
This emphatically magnificent new recording continues onward with a song written about Clapton’s aforementioned wife Melia McEnery, the gently strummed artistry of Believe in Life and a blues standard from American blues singer St. Louis Jimmy Ode, Going Down Slow, and they are backed by a concentrated, Derek and the Dominos-imbibed Layla, a quite breathtaking rendition of Tears in Heaven (written about the death of his four-year-old son, Conor), and then this incredible collection rounds out with the Muddy Waters hit Long Distance Call, the slow-poke, blues crawl of the highly underrated Bad Boy (written by Clapton, Delaney Bramlett and Bonnie Bramlett), coming to a close on another Muddy Waters tune, the blues funk of Got My Mojo Working.
In conclusion, and having also watched the DVD that goes along with this, the way Clapton approaches any recording session is always breathtakingly professional, but the calmness, the laid back aura that these guys performed these lockdown session tracks within is something amazing to behold.
Nobody is dressed up for the cameras. Nobody is trying to sneak into the limelight (not even Clapton). Everyone is as casual as casual could ever be, with Clapton himself happy to show off his lockdown weight and (somewhat) unkempt appearance.
The culmination of their sessions together at Cowdray House, West Sussex, England, the DVD is something you don’t have to visually watch, but can keep playing in the background whilst you work around the house; it is just that accommodating (oh, and this sent-for-review CD/DVD combo also comes complete with a colorful 16 page booklet).
Amazon CD/DVD Purchase Link
Eric Clapton’s The Lady in the Balcony: Lockdown Sessions will also be available on: DVD+CD, Blu-ray+CD, 4K UHD+Blu-ray, 2 LPs pressed on yellow vinyl, and a Deluxe Edition containing the DVD, Blu-ray & CD packaged in a 40 page 12” x 12” hardback photo book, digital video & digital audio.
In addition, a CD-only version will be available exclusively at Target.
Official Purchase Links