Sessions for Robert J.
Ostensibly a companion piece to Slowhand's tribute album Me and Mr. Johnson, this collection of demos and live rehearsals stands on its own surprisingly well, capturing the spirit of the legendary Robert Johnson even more effectively. That's attributable to the rougher edges retained on songs like "Kind-Hearted Woman Blues," which Clapton's band was only just coming to terms with. It's equally evident in the spare, eerie tunes -- "Me and the Devil Blues," "Hellhound on My Trail" -- that Clapton and fellow guitarist Doyle Bramhall II worked out acoustically in the same Dallas hotel room where Johnson had his only real recording session. The CD-and-DVD package contains plenty of material that didn't make it to the finished version of Me and Mr. Johnson, highlighted by a stinging version of "Sweet Home Chicago" and a loamy take on "Ramblin' on My Mind" -- which, coincidentally, was the first song Clapton ever sang professionally, back when he was a member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. The DVD, which clocks in at 18 songs, as opposed to the CD's 11, also features two bonus tracks, interview footage, and behind-the-scenes looks at Clapton's studio activity.