Friday, May 7, 2010

J.J. Cale: After Midnight

For this Friday Firsts recording it is another chicken/egg scenario as the one who wrote the song really did not commercially release the song until the hit was recorded. Oklahoman J.J. Cale wrote “After Midnight,” but only recorded it as a demo. It was bassist Carl Radle who introduced the song to Eric Clapton who recorded it for his first solo album in 1970. Cale released his own version of the tune in 1971. Unfortunately, neither the demo nor the 1971 version are available on YouTube; however, a live version from 1994 recorded in a Dutch studio gives a taste of Cale’s original arrangement.

In 1971, Cale’s commercial recording of the song was released by Leon Russell’s Shelter Records as a single and a cut on his “Act Naturally” LP. The single just missed the Top 40 by charting at #42.

Eric Clapton’s First Version

Most individuals became familiar with “After Midnight” was released as a single by ATCO in 1970 to support Clapton’s solo LP. The song peaked on the American charts at #18 and did much better in Canada at #10.

Clapton’s 1987 Version

On the boxed set Crossroads, Clapton released a second version of “After Midnight” that was arranged quite differently than his original hit single from 1970. In addition, this version had a slightly slower tempo than his original 1970 recording. Although not released as a single, the 1987 version gained popularity as the music bed for a Michelob commercial.

Eric Clapton and J.J. Cale Together

Here’s a rare treat featuring both Clapton and Cale on “After Midnight.” While I am not sure of the date of this video, it probably was captured to tape in the early 2000s.

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