Clapton & Winwood - Live @ MSG

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For me, it is a commentary on the quality of new music this year that my favorite two new releases are from artists from the last generation AND which were recorded primarily for DVD release.  I've already commented on Jeff Beck's Live at Ronnie Scott's, whichClapton Winwood DVD was outstanding, and now I come to Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood, which was released quite a bit earlier this year.

Following the synergy they rekindled at Clapton's Crossroads Festival in 2007, Clapton and Winwood reunited for three nights at Madison Square Garden in 2008, followed by a summer  tour in 2009.  The DVD (CD also available, but why?) captures one evening at MSG.

Disc One includes 20 songs, most selected by each from the other's past catalog.  What results is a fine mix of the best of both artists, including songs from Traffic, Derek & the Dominos, a few covers, solo releases, and, of course, Blind Faith - a "supergroup" in which they played that lasted only one album in 1969.

Clapton Winwood @ MSG

Highlights include "Glad," "Pearly Queen," "Rambling on My Mind,"  "Little Wing," "Can't Find My Way Home," and "Dear Mr. Fantasy."  The onlyClapton Winwood Setlist missteps are "Forever Man," which was a fine single for Clapton but otherwise a misfit in this lineup of classics, and "Georgia on My Mind," which even the soulful Winwood shouldn't touch.

Disc Two includes better than average commentary about their relationship and the process of getting the shows together, plus several additional songs, including an outstanding acoustic cover of Robert Johnson's "Rambling on My Mind."

The video quality is good, but the venue itself is a limitation, not to mention the stage arrangement with Winwood's keyboards off to one side.  As compared with Jeff Beck's Live at Ronnie Scott's, the artistry is just as stellar, but the music here is much more accessible and likely much more enjoyable for those familiar with the songs.  Both are highly recommended for guitar enthusiasts.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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