Expectations ran high for this album reuniting Clapton with producer Glyn Johns, who helmed Clapton’s late ’70s records including the global No. 1, “Slowhand.” But the results are mixed. Half of “I Still Do” falls into the easy-listening, cruise-control blues of Clapton’s later career, a long way from his fiery days with Cream and Derek and the Dominos. He sleepwalks through a Great American Songbook tune (“I’ll Be Seeing You”) and offers a mushy original ballad, “Spiral.” But there’s some heat elsewhere: A cover of Robert Johnson’s “Stones in My Passway” mixes gritty slide guitar with accordion for a New Orleans feel, and JJ Cale’s “Somebody’s Knockin’ ” twists to a impassioned climax. Why Clapton doesn’t do more of this is a mystery — and speaking of mysteries, Clapton’s old friend George Harrison (billed as “Angelo Mysterioso”) plays on the elegant “I Will Be There,” recorded years ago but never released previously. Now, let’s hope Clapton opts to work with some still-living legends who might spark him to rock hard again. How about Keith Richards, Joe Perry, and Angus Young, for starters?
Essential “Somebody’s Knockin’ ”