After midnight, it’s gonna be peaches and cream… mmmmm. This, originally by J.J. Cale, is one of the Twentieth Century’s sweetest little electric-music outings, gentle, sexy, and fast. Now, J.J. made a whole lot of money on this song when Eric Clapton decided to put it on a couple of albums and play it at a whole lot of concerts, and both versions are worth hearing.
I saw J.J. play once — stage-managed the show, in fact had to convince him to play an encore. I’ve seen Clapton several times and while he might not the greatest guitarist to have ever lived, he never plays a song the same way twice. So if you go to see him, you’ll hear music that didn’t exist before that night and will never exist again. Pretty good bargain, I’d say.
There was a thing he did in his early-Nineties shows that I haven’t noticed recently when he’s on TV, which is on a slow blues, he’d go way up the neck and play these slow more or less completely atonal sequences that you kept noticing were somehow perfectly pitched against the underlying blues chord changes. I’ll never forget it and I don’t know if anyone ever recorded it.
My favorite version of this song is on Clapton’s Just One Night recorded live in Japan in late 1979. It’s a great album end to end, with masterful versions of Dylan’s If I Don’t Be There By Morning, the Clapton/Danko All Our Past Times, and of course J.J.’s own Cocaine. But After Midnight, wow, they take it double extra fast, and the big closing solo is a pedal-to-the-medal rhythm workout, the only time I’ve ever heard Clapton just bear down and play a half-dozen choruses as fast as he can, and he was really on that night. Wonderful work.
While I’m recommending Clapton products, he’s had a series of “Crossroad Guitar Festival” fundraisers, which have produced some really great Rock-&-Roll TV and DVDs. Also, his autobiography, while lacking the hilarious decadence of Keef’s and the musical depth of Miles’s, cuts across a super-interesting slice of twentieth-century music history.
Links · Spotify playlist. Clapton live in Japan on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes. J.J. Cale on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes. Now, as for live video, you can sure enjoy blowing an hour watching performances of this song. First of all, here’s a gentle, lilting take by Eric and J.J. together, with Derek Trucks — the singing in close harmony is sweet, and the guitar breaks so pretty, especially J.J.’s. Then there’s Clapton with Steve Winwood at Madison Square Garden. The gimmick on that tour was that Eric picked the Winwood songs and Steve picked the Clapton songs. Anyhow, it’s fast and loud and muscular, Eric bangs it out and Steve’s supporting Hammond-organ thunder is way cool too.