Eric Clapton’s triannual Crossroads Festival in America – a fundraiser for his addiction centre in Antigua – doesn’t rate much attention over here. But for Stateside guitar fans, particularly those more concerned with pick-ups than posing, it’s a chance to binge on a smorgasbord of pleasant pluckers.
This 40-track set gives a flavour of the four festivals so far. Ol’ Slowhand shows up on 16 tracks. The half a dozen over-tried and over-trusted hits he plays with his own band are considerably less interesting than his cameo appearance with JJ Cale (fumbling the intro to After Midnight), trading licks with Carlos Santana or reviving Dear Mr Fantasy with Steve Winwood. He also joins some of the massed blues jams that are so crowded with the great and the good (and the now-departed) that it’s impossible to tell who’s playing what.
The gregarious Vince Gill and Albert Lee show how the festival jam should work, rounding up Sheryl Crow, Keb’ Mo’ and James Burton for Lay Down Sally and Keith Urban for Tumbling Dice. Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and a host of jam-banders pick up the baton with a soulful and (presumably) drug-free cover of Space Captain, which is more than can be said for Joe Cocker’s version on Mad Dogs & Englishmen.