Triple Played: Clapton, Petty release 
solid albums even in July

July is not usually a time for significant releases in the music industry. That time is usually reserved for September, November and May.

However, the two artists I am going to talk about today can probably release a new record whenever they wish and it will still sell well.

Eric Clapton & Friends with “The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale” and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with “Hypnotic Eye” are what we are listening to this week at Triple Play Records.

When Clapton says friends on this CD he means, friends! Joining Clapton for this tribute to his favorite songwriter are the aforementioned Petty as well as Don White, Derek Trucks, John Mayer, Mark Knopfler and Willie Nelson.

There are 16 songs on the disc, including “Cajun Moon,” “Call Me The Breeze,” “Sensitive Kind” (featuring White), “Rock And Roll Records” (Petty) and “Magnolia” (Mayer). Those are some of my favorite Cale tunes.

There also are lesser known gems such as “Someday” (Knopfler), “Starbound” (Nelson and Trucks), “Don’t Wait” (Mayer), “I Got the Same Old Blues” (Petty) and “Songbird” (Nelson).

“Cocaine” and “After Midnight,” arguably Cale’s two biggest hits, are nowhere to be found. I think Clapton did that by design as to not take away from the laid-back folk, blues rock feel of the album.

Knopfler’s band Dire Straits was compared to Cale early on. It is easy to see Cale’s influence on Dire Straits’ music and it fits in perfectly here, as do Nelson, Mayer and Petty.

Don’t let the laid-back sound fool you into relaxing too much as the last third of the recording gets to moving pretty good with the expected “high quality” of the players on this incredible CD.

Vocally, Nelson and Mayer stand out at first, but all the musicians do a terrific job honoring the songs and the songwriter with their style.

If you are a Cale fan and/or Clapton fan — I think you can’t be one without the other — you will love this disc.

On “Hypnotic Eye,” Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers for the most part returned to Petty’s pre-Traveling Wilburys sound, which is harder and has a more gritty, down-in-the-dirt Southern punk rock attitude that the group started with and kept up through its first half-dozen records.

There are 10 terrific songs on “Hypnotic Eye,” and there are hardly any slow dances to be found. In fact, this CD rocks from beginning to end with early faves being “Fault Lines,” “Forgotten Man,” “U Get Me High,” “Burn Out Town,” “Power Drunk” and “Red River” with these lyrics: “She’s got a 3-D Jesus in a picture frame/ Got a child she never named/ She shakes a snake above her hair/ Talks in tongues when there’s no one there.”

More laid-back tunes include “Full Grown Boy” and “Sins of My Youth.”

At 63-years-old, Petty still has the vocal chops to convey the urgency and uneasiness of the songs as well as gentleness when called for.

Mike Campbell’s guitar has never sounded angrier or better. Ben Tench is a master on any set of keyboards and adds excellent background vocals. Scott Thurston provides a solid third guitar, and Ron Blair and Steve Ferrone set the rhythm on bass and drums, respectively.

All in all, an excellent new record that is both retro and refreshing.

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on the Vault 100.7 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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