Monday, 29 July 2013

Vale JJ Cale

US Roots guitarist JJ Cale shuffled off the mortal coil a couple of days ago, aged 74.

To be honest, I had no idea he was that old! But his legacy is inescapable and fascinating.

If you ever wondered where Mark Knopfler got the idea to sing in the style that he does, listen to JJ Cale. The two men played guitar similarly too, although Mark could shred with the best of them, JJ kept his style deliberately simple, never overplaying his solos, but rather choosing the notes (and the precise number of them) to suit the song in question.

He was also a technology whizz. He regularly overdubbed most, if not all the instruments on his recordings, augmenting them with drum machines and other gizmos. And of course, over the top is that laid back southern drawl, half spoken, half sung, in a hushed tone similar to that of a late night conversation, so as to not wake the other occupants of the house.

The reason I describe his work as deceptively simple is because while it sounds so, it really isn't. He was a meticulous craftsman, but he made it sound easy. Others covered his songs but more often than not, the arrangements are thick and heavy, in stark contrast to JJ's own versions. However, at their core, the songs are fascinating.

For further listening, check out Lynyrd Skynyrd's version of "Call Me The Breeze" and Eric Clapton's remakes of "After Midnight" and "Cocaine".

He will be missed. RIP.

Below is a Five Piece Pack of JJ Cale's finest moments.

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