Eric Clapton at work on new album with longtime touring guitarist Doyle Bramhall II

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Eric Clapton’s next full-length original album will again pair him with longtime touring guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who co-produced 2010’s Clapton.

That according to Where’s Eric, the Eric Clapton Fan Club Magazine, which also reports a lighter touring schedule for the guitar-playing legend after a jam-packed year of dates in the U.S., Europe, South America and Japan over the course of 2011. Clapton is already scheduled to appear at a tribute concert for the late Hubert Sumlin, set for February 24 at New York City’s Apollo Theater. He also made a guest appearance on Paul McCartney’s forthcoming album of standards, called Kisses on the Bottom.

Here are some of our recent thoughts on Eric Clapton. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

WYNTON MARSALIS AND ERIC CLAPTON, “LAYLA” (2011): After a desultory, red-light district blast of horns, the Wynton Marsalis-led Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra settles into this funereal rhythm, swaying from side to side as Eric Clapton rips off a few blues-simmered, heartfelt asides. If you hadn’t checked the liner notes, the song itself — a signature moment for the guitarist as a member of Derek and the Dominos — would remain unrecognizable, almost 1:30 into the tune. It’s only when the band quiets itself for the initial verse — “what will you do when you get lonely,” Clapton sings, to a surprised round of applause from the New York audience — that “Layla” reveals itself.

ERIC CLAPTON – ME AND MR. JOHNSON (2004): after all these years, Clapton decided to go way back to his roots. Maybe to the root of it all. Me and Mr. Johnson has Clapton serving up some raw-and-tasty renditions of 14 (of twenty-nine) Robert Johnson classics (yeah, pretty much everything Johnson is classic). My ears (and blues-music receptors) were very happy to hear these fine roadhouse-worthy nuggets. I thought I didn’t need to hear another version of “Come On In My Kitchen”. Yeah, well … I was wrong. Do yourself a favor and check out Eric Clapton’s tribute to his main influence. Robert Johnson’s music managed to change Clapton’s life. It might not do the same for you.

ERIC CLAPTON – PILGRIM (1998): Clapton’s first album of original material since 1989’s Journeyman was, on its face, a sharp, brave attempt at modernizing the guitarist’s core sound. You hear solid licks situated amongst the prevailing R&B production values of today — keyboards and drum programming, both swirling orchestrations and smooth female backing vocals, these car-frame rattling bass beats. But the album was much more than that. Pilgrim is, save for Layla, the most intimate, starkly honest recording Clapton has issued so far. This effort sounds, both in texture and approach, nothing like the restless Clapton’s previous personas as comfy 1990s acoustic-blues throwback, perfectly coifed 1980s MOR rocker, calm and collected 1970s balladeer or frenzied 1960s rock experimentalist. So, of course, Pilgrim tanked.

ONE TRACK MIND: DEREK AND THE DOMINOES, “LAYLA” (1970): Keyboardist Bobby Whitlock, whose keyboard work is featured on the track’s now-legendary coda, was never in favor of releasing the song as a two-part composition: “They had me put the support piano on because even though (Dominoes drummer) Jim (Gordon, who composed the coda) could play the actual notes, he was such a precise piano player that it had no feel. So they had me emulate it and put some feel to it. He had great feel as drummer, but the piano is something else. That coda is against my wishes, anyway. I still don’t think it should have been a part of it. The initial single didn’t have it on it. It was only played once, in the recording of it.”

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