J.J. Cale's The Definitive Collection is an excellent single-disc collection from one of the most influential singer/songwriters to emerge from America during the '70s. Just as Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark define Texas songwriting, Cale is the epitome of the Oklahoma writers. Although most people know him as the writer of Eric Clapton's hit "Cocaine," Cale constantly offered up other quality material that could only be defined by his vocal style, which can accurately be described as "reclining in the groove." Popular tunes such as "Call Me the Breeze," "Hey Baby" and "Crazy Mama" have a deceptively laid-back intensity that to a large degree influenced such rockers as Lowell George of Little Feat and the previously mentioned Clapton. Cale's guitar work proved to be influential as well (again on Clapton), but also popular swamp rockers such as Delaney Bramlett. The Definitive Collection offers a comprehensive collection from Cale's early-'70s recordings in Nashville, to Muscle Shoals in Alabama, to his later work on Hollywood. If you're going to explore Cale's groove, this is the place to start.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matthew Greenwald