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Eric Clapton

  • Layla,
  • 461 Ocean Boulevard,
  • There's One In Every Crowd,
  • Slowhand,
  • Backless,
  • August,
  • Unplugged,
  • From The Cradle,
  • Me And Mr Johnson,

  • Album Reviews |

    Eric Clapton

    Layla 9 ( 1970 )
    I Looked Away / Bell Bottom Blues / Keep On Growing / Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out / I Am Yours / Anyday / Key To The Highway / Tell The Truth / Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? / Have You Ever Loved A Woman? / Little Wing / It's Too Late / Layla / Thorn Tree In The Garden

    Eric Patrick Clapton. A prominent phrase seen scrawled against walls in paint was "Clapton Is God" - well, obviously! Creating the heavens and the earth is seven days compared to going "did, e-lid, e-lid, e-lee" on your guitar? Very similar and comparable things! And, as if one supergroup ( two actually! or three? - 'Cream', 'Blind Faith' - could you call The Yardbirds a supergroup? could you call John Mayalls Bluesbreakers a supergroup? ) wasn't already enough - Eric Patrick gets together 'with friends' ( the kick-ass drummer Jim Gordon, slide guitarist Duane Allman, organ ace Bobby Whitlock with Carl Radle filling out on the bass geetar... ), shuns publicity and releases 'Layla' under the name Derek And The Dominos only to watch appalled as it failed to sell until he revealed it was indeed, he. It still hurts Eric to this day, apparently - that the music alone wasn't enough to see this album sell. That people had to know who it was behind the music before the record sold. 'Layla' the song, wasn't a hit until 1972, by which time Eric Patrick Clapton's solo career was well and truly underway and a most certified success! But, what inspired the 'Layla' album? A little love triangle between Eric, George Harrison and George's wife Pattie. Songs of genuine feeling and anguish amid a growing heroin addiction that eventually tore Derek And The Domino's apart, almost tore Eric Clapton apart. Thanks to Pete Townshend apparently for getting Eric's act back together, and lending a helping hand - but that's all into the future from this album i'm talking about right here.

    If you've just happened across this page whilst mindlessly browsing the net when you're really meant to be working ( get back to work! ) then a little note is in order. I never used to be the kind of guy that admired guitar playing in terms of virtuosity. Never, ever. One man, Frank Zappa transformed my musical landscape in that respect. Add a Jeff Beck album or two - lead into my own discovery of progressive rock and Steve Howe the guitarist from Yes in particular - and you find me at the stage i'm at right now. The stage? Well, I'm able to appreciate good guitar playing. I don't 'get' the technical aspects, barely being able to master three chords myself what with clumsy fingers and all - but yeah. As a music fan, i'm able to appreciate good playing. I never used to particularly care, I just cared about the songs and the overall feeling and effect. I also used to absolutely despise Eric Clapton, for no real good reason at all except that he wasn't seen as cool in the late eighties, early nineties - and that's when I was just getting into music in a big massive way. One single song transformed my view of Eric Clapton, and that song is 'Bell Bottom Blues'. Bell bottom blues, you made me cry. / I don't want to lose this feeling. / And if I could choose a place to die / It would be in your arms. Now, I can certainly associate with that. The vocals are full of genuine feeling and emotion, the guitar does great things, but these vocals! And the chorus, my! Do you want to see me crawl across the floor to you? / Do you want to hear me beg you to take me back? / I'd gladly do it because / I don't want to fade away. / Give me one more day, please. / I don't want to fade away. / In your heart I want to stay. In light of his personal life at the time, you can see where he was coming from, but even forgetting that, and combined with the genuinely soulful vocals and nifty guitar parts, undemonstrative by the way - this is fabulous stuff. 'Keep On Growing' and 'I Looked Away' are either side of 'Bell Bottom Blues' on the album, and 'Keep On Growing' is groovy in particular, uptempo and driving across the highway, as it should be.

    The album contains familiar but superbly played blues styled pieces, but we expect that kind of thing from Eric, don't we? The organ running through 'Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out' is effective in particular, though. Variety is continued with the mellow blissful laying on the beach under a full moon feel of the romantic 'I Am Yours' and things carry on continuing. The fab guitar of 'Anyday', the slow blues grind of the nine minute long 'Key To The Highway'. Too long to be honest with you, not quite to my liking and the double Vinyl album 'Layla' eventually proves to be a little too long for its own good, but its a minor thing, I guess. You can still sit down and enjoy the album from beginning to end, if you so wish. And, you should. It's a great album! 'Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?' is particularly rocking and up-tempo with mucho nifty guitar that is a pleasure to hear. Great drumming, but my god, it's Jim Gordon! I'm a Byrds fan, by the way. Jim Gordon drummed on their 'Notorious Byrd Brothers' record and did a fantastic job, so i've much respect for him. He even gets to co-write 'Layla', the famous title song! How much money do you even begin to imagine that song has earned him through the years?? The album credits list Jim Gordon playing drums but also percussion and Piano, and I guess the lovely beautiful Piano part that comes after the 'famous' 'Layla' familiar rock part was mostly his idea. I guess, I don't know actually - but it's truly a lovely thing. The cover of 'Little Wing' the hendrix song is well done, the very closing 'Thorn Tree In My Garden' a Bobby Whitlock song, and it's a nice folky thing, a perfect closing song, and a nice touch. Mr Whitlock co-writes several songs here with Eric, good to see him getting one of his own solo compositions here. Good to see? It's not like he's a life-long buddy or anything..... but 'Layla And Assorted Love Songs' is so genuine and affecting sounding, you really will begin TO CARE about the guys involved in producing and bringing these songs to you. Or maybe i'm just strange?

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    Simon Brigham slb23@shaw.ca
    I remember I got Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominoes on CD about 4 or 5 years ago when I was a big fan of Eric Clapton. (my appreciation kind of diminished since then, but recently it's made a resurgance). This has got to be one of the most heartbreaking albums of all time. So much anger, bitterness, and lost love. You're right, Adrian - Jim Gordon is a great drummer! He's one of the best album session drummers ever. Just check out his drumming on "Bell Bottom Blues". It goes snare, bass drum, bass drum; instead of b.d., b.d., snare! It's so simple it's genius! When I first got this, "Bell Bottom Blues" was my favourite song on it (well, besides "Layla" of course. I really love the last half of that song with the awesome piano.) Also, their version of "Little Wing" is a whole lot better than the original (by Jimi Hendrix). Sting also recorded a version of it on his 1987 album . . . Nothing Like The Sun. It's good, so if you're a Sting and Jimi Hendrix, you might want to check it out. Three complaints: "I Looked Away" isn't a great opener, "Key to the Highway" is too long, and "Thorn Tree In The Garden" is out of place and a terrible ending. I also don't like Bobbdy Whitlock's singing. All in all, this is a terrific but underrated album, and it should get the attention and respect it deserves.

    top of page 461 Ocean Boulevard ( 1974 )
    Motherless Children / Willie And The Hand Jive / Get Ready / I Shot The Sheriff / I Can't Hold Out / Please Be With Me / Let It Grow / Steady Rollin Man / Mainline Florida / Give Me Strength

    Eric hadn't been feeling too confident or something. He had his problems, and the break-up of Derek And The Dominos was just one of these problems. But, he's back now! Or was back then, you know what I mean. And nifty playing, energy, decent tunes. Yeah, all of those things are present and correct on this nice little album here. The little shuffling beat of 'Motherless Children' opens the album, Eric sounds in decent enough voice and the guitar parts, all sliding and groovy, are pretty nice sounding. 'I Shot The Sheriff' is a glorious inspired re-working of the Bob Marley tune and brought much acclaim and respect to Mr Clapton and also helped popularize Bob Marley in both the UK and the US. To be honest though, 'Motherless Children' and 'I Shot The Sheriff' are the best two things here. Everything else is worthy and solid enough however to form a consistent enough and decent enough album. Have I used the word 'enough' enough yet? Yes? Okay, then! I do love the closing track, actually. 'Give Me Strength' is a nice blues inspired sounding tune with gospel flavoured organ/keyboard parts and a pure sounding vocal. The performance, especially the vocal, is full of feeling that does come through to the listener. Before I actually sat down and listened to Eric Clapton beyond the radio hits, I always did doubt whether he was 'genuine' or not, but stuff like the 'Give Me Strength' helps me believe that he was genuine, and impassioned when it came to the music forms he loved.

    'Willie And The Hand Jive' follows 'Motherless Children' and does a good job of doing so, a good rhythm is picked out here again, a little genuine funkiness even! This funk continues for 'Get Ready' and it seems as if Eric Clapton had indeed been listening to Reggae, listening to soul. These influences are all over '461 Ocean Boulevard' and it's nice to hear him taking in different music forms and treating them with respect and bringing them into his own style and compositions. I don't actually dislike a single song here, just that a few of the songs are just competent, and nothing more. Well, more than competent is the groovy blues tune 'I Can't Hold Out'. More than competent is the blues and folk sounding 'Please Be With Me', very nice guitar sounds all over this one in particular. God, what am I doing? I hate Eric Clapton right? He's not very indie cool, he's not very punk rock! Well, maybe I don't hate Eric Clapton anymore. Albums like this help me respect the guy, and good god, there's a country influence in 'Please Be With Me' too. I really love the harmony vocals. 'Let It Grow' is gorgeous, by the way, and now I'm leaving you. '461 Ocean Boulevard' is pretty lovely you know? Good god, what AM I SAYING? Well, you know.... it's a good album.

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    Mal Wood mallovescooljazz@bigpond.com
    Sorry - I really like your reviews even if I don't agree with them. As far as Ocean Boulevard is concerned I remember when it came out that I thought Clapton was climbing aboard the MOR bandwagon that was in full swing at the time. He absolutely murders Motherless Children (no pun intended)- take a listen to Blind Willie Johnson's or Blind Willie Mctell's versions. The album was a big hit at the time and probably good for his self esteem, but not particularly good music. Cheers.

    top of page There's One In Every Crowd( 1975 )
    We've Been Told (Jesus Is Coming Soon) / Swing Low, Sweet Chariot / Little Rachel / Don't Blame Me / The Sky Is Crying / Singin' the Blues / Better Make It Through Today / Pretty Blue Eyes / High / Opposites

    Released far too soon after his comeback '461 Ocean Boulevard' set, 'There's One In Every Crowd' sees Eric seemingly pretending to be Bob Marley, and that he can pull this reggae stuff off. Well, he can study it, sure. He can coax his musicians into producing reggae styles, etc. Of course he can. For all I know, he can go out and book 'The Wailers' to back him if he likes. That's not what he did by the way and it doesn't matter. The fact is, Eric returned to the studio with undue haste as far as I can tell by listening to this 'There's One In Every Crowd' album. By far the worst offender here for me, partly for reasons of my own, is Eric's Reggae version of the Rugby anthem 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot'. Being a pale, ill looking boy in my youth, I was hardly enamoured of the sport of Rugby. More of a footie ( or 'soccer' if you will ) man myself. Still, even ignoring the songs status as song of celebration regarding the sport of rugby, this is lack-lustre stuff, a vaguely genuine sounding reggae beat, an unimaginative reggae beat. Female gospel harmonies add to the 'occasion' and after three and a half minutes the whole sorry enterprise thankfully ends. The opening song here shares the gospel ( although not the reggae ) flavour of 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' - works decently enough, but not well enough to overcome the weakness of material such as 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot'. A further reggae work-out arrives with 'Don't Blame Me' and the Bob Marley thing pops up again. And the question arrives into your brain, "Why? Why Eric, why?". Well, I guess he was a fan. 'Little Rachel' is mid-tempo with very standard playing from both Eric and the group of musicians he had surrounding him at the time. The vocals here, as they are on a number of songs actually, are rather too laid-back and restrained for their own good. Little comes out to excite you or swoon you. Swoon you?? Well, you get the general idea, I hope.

    Better material and performances arrive with the likes of the Elmore James cover, 'The Sky Is Crying'. The restrained laid-back nature of the playing and vocal remains, but the material is great, the atmosphere is good and the guitar playing certainly accomplished in places. A 'proper' Clapton moment arrives with 'Singing The Blues'. A little chugging rocker on an album short on both rockers and material thats faster than plodding mid-tempo. I enjoy the harmony vocals and playing through 'Pretty Blue Eyes', don't enjoy the MOR organ led ballad 'Better Make It Through Today'. Don't much enjoy the album, come to think of it. Little here is offensive though. Well, personally I find 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' offensive, but that's being churlish. 'There's One In Every Crowd' is smooth, laid-back, a summers evening spent far too tired after the days activities to raise your energy levels high enough to move very far. So, better stick on 'There's One In Every Crowd' by Clapton? Yeah, it'll do. But don't for a second mistake it for work of the level of 'Layla' or '461 Ocean Boulevard', because it isn't.

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    top of page Slowhand 7 ( 1977 )
    Cocaine / Wonderful Tonight / Lay Down Sally / Next Time You See Her / We're All the Way / The Core / May You Never / Mean Old Frisco / Peaches and Diesel

    J.J Cale provides the opening tune here so Eric manages to get things off to a strong start. Using his own touring band and recording 'Slowhand' with relative ease, we find ourselves in the middle of words like 'accomplishment', 'worthy', 'mid-tempo', 'assured' and "fucking shit, it's that piece of crap 'Wonderful Tonight'". Ok, so i'm being unfair. 'Wonderful Tonight' is a sincere song, but so soppy and cringe inducing. Vomit inducing? Well, no. Not really, he wrote it for his wife and all, and i'm sure she was very pleased. It's actually a lovely tune if we try to ignore the words and the vocals. Still, 'Lay Down Sally' gets things rocking in a gently middle aged kind of way. I'm being kind of unfair, because factor in the decent mid-tempo country tinged rocker, the Dylan tinged rocker indeed, that is 'Next Time You See Her' - and you actually realise that the first four songs here are all very easy to listen to and enjoy. They may not be cutting edge or exciting, but sometimes we all need a bit of easy relaxation, a bit of drifting blissfully to some high-quality, yet completely unchallenging, music. Don't we? Just as well, for the next song is so sleepy it's hardly there. Eyes closed, there's a blues guitar solo played at excruciatingly slow tempo surely coming up soon. There isn't actually, for 'We're All The Way' is just another country song. Very sleepy though, very quiet - if still quite nice in places.

    Ah, 'The Core', 'The Core'! 'The Core' is a great little neat piece of up-tempo ( nearly! ) guitar work and groovy rhythm and solid accomplished playing that not only is easy to enjoy, but is desirable to enjoy. Featuring female vocals switching lead with Erics own vocals - this is quality stuff that's a highlight of the album for me. Add in a song written by the mighty folkster John Martyn, the very decent indeed 'May You Never' and we're getting there. Calling the album 'Slowhand' was hardly likely to please a growing group of punk-rockers that were terrorising a nation, but then, Eric was hardly concerning himself with those types of people. I'm not even sure he knew who his audience was anymore - although 'Slowhand' managed to sell pretty damn well off the back of the likes of 'Wonderful Tonight'.

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    top of page Backless 6 ( 1978 )
    Walk Out in the Rain / Watch Out for Lucy / I'll Make Love to You Anytime / Roll It / Tell Me That You Love M / If I Don't Be There by Morning / Early in the Morning / Promises / Golden Ring / Tulsa Time

    Much the same routine as last time out. The same kind of sound, the same kind of gentle easy material to grasp that challenges no-one, but dammit if it isn't tasteful and the kind of music your dad might like.... So, what do we have this time? Well, 'Walk Out In The Rain' is very decent material sourced from a Mr Dylan, so it seems. Eric himself, plus band - turn in a very easy mid-tempo, slightly swinging - version of said song. Erics own 'Watch Out For Lucy' re-uses many familiar blues lines, re-uses many familiar rock and roll lines, but it all turns out okay. This is deeply 'ordinary' material writing wise, deeply average. But, the sound of a band who believe in themselves is heard - the song is played with conviction, a conviction it hardly deserves, but we won't quibble about that too much. 'I'll Make Love To You Anytime' is a little more growling and biting, which is welcome. 'Roll It' manages to be a decent Clapton/Levy co-write and 'Tell Me That You Love Me' seems to be another Dylan influenced number, although Mr Clapton himself penned this particular tune. Come the vaguely entertaining 'If I Don't Be There By Morning' it becomes clear that 'Backless' doesn't have quite the quality of material that 'Slowhand' did. This is also reflected in the two albums commercial fortunes, 'Backless' faring significantly worse than 'Slowhand' did, which actually had been one of the best selling albums of his career.

    I don't want to listen to the slow blues grind of 'Early In The Morning', I really don't. Much better is 'Promises', a sweet lilting country song in the manner of the couple of country tunes that appeared on 'Slowhand'. Yeah, 'Backless' really is just like 'Slowhand' only worse. Released just a year later, there was no real impetus for this record, other than to keep the Clapton show rolling, so to speak. A couple of deeply average songs close the record - well, average, bordering on pub-rock performances of a couple of songs, anyway. Pub-rock? Well, blues-rock played in a pub by an old-hand who used to be somebody. Played by a guy who very nearly became famous, only didn't. Obviously, i'm not talking about Clapton here, just the sound of the album! It's a problem with 'Backless' you see. Eric, guitar god? It could almost be anybody playing guitar on this album. Well, any one of a huge number of talented session musicians, at least. 'Backless' is not at all distinctive - although in its favour, it does share the easy going and easy to appreciate nature of 'Slowhand'.

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    top of page August 3 ( 1985 )
    It's In The Way That You Use It / Run / Tearing Us Apart / Bad Influences / Walk Away / Hung Up On Your Love / Take A Chance / Hold On / Miss You / Holy Mother / Behind The Mask / Grand Illusion

    Ah, that old mid-eighties trick of building an album around a hit single. You know the thing. Genesis 'Invisible Touch', for example - only, inexplicably, Genesis were so massive during the mid eighties that they managed to enjoy many other hits as well. Guitars were out, guitars were ugly sounding things and synths were in. Most definitely in, unless you happened not to be a mainstream act. The underground was the underground, the mainstream was the mainstream - there was little crossover at all, as there is now. Anyway, seeing as we are all here, let's talk about that huge hit single Eric enjoyed called 'Behind The Mask' aka 'Who Do You Love?' - the phrase which is repeated and repeated amid the synths and complete lack of audible guitars. Eric isn't here, a producer is here, session guys are here. Something is here, a catchy pop song is here amid little tiny guitar parts just to show that Eric did play some part in the construction of the backing track after all, other than to sing over the top of it, of course. Switching right back to the opening song, we get another Eighties synth monster, pleasant, etc. Etc, etc.... good god I want to die. This is so inoffensive, so very American Psycho and Mike And The Mechanics - that I really do worry about all the people that placed this album at number three in the UK album charts back in that fantastic year that was 1985. Yeah, right.

    ARGHHHH! This is truly horrible stuff, an Eric Clapton album nearly entirely devoid of guitars. It sounds like a Robert Palmer album, you know, 'Addicted To Love' and all that other crap? It sounds like that. Which isn't good, obviously. Just forget it, and let's just say this. This is a well produced mid-eighties pop album that could have been performed by absolutely anybody and ended up sounding much the same. Which is as far away from Eric's original love of the blues, etc - as it is truly possible to get. Just give it a miss, okay?

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    top of page Unplugged 4 ( 1992 )
    Signe / Before You Accuse Me / Hey Hey / Tears in Heaven / Lonely Stranger / Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out / Layla / Running on Faith / Walkin' Blues / Alberta / San Francisco Bay Blues / Malted Milk / Old Love / Rollin' and Tumblin'

    Eric Clapton proves himself to be a competent blues interpreter, as if he hadn't already proved that before. But, memories of ill advised production jobs all through several Eighties Clapton albums are partly erased by this release, a release that reminds us all of who Eric Clapton is. A guy who likes the blues music, oh yes. Who unplugged? Reverted to type? He was no longer the angry young man, no longer a young man - and 'Unplugged' reflects this. It's a gentle stroll through blues standards, Clapton standards, etc, etc. The opening 'Signe' is a nifty little acoustic guitar thing leading into the classic blues of 'Before You Accuse Me'. Eric does the vocals well, sounds proper blues, close your eyes and its there. 'Hey Hey' shows a little bit of pleasant guitar life, 'Tears In Heaven' is 'Tears In Heaven' is 'Tears In Heaven'. Genuine, yet clichéd. It tugs at heartstrings, although not mine. It sounds like an exercise, although does come across as genuine. 'Lonely Stranger' and 'Nobody Knows When You're Down And Out' are both exercises. Excercises? Well, Eric playing songs he likes. However, the mid-tempo, aged nature of the whole enterprise begins to grate. You'd think i'd like listening to a set of blues tunes when I feel like crap, as I do tonight, but i'm not enjoying listening to these performances, not at all. Oh, i've listened to them when I was feeling happy, too. So, don't get any false impressions. What the fuck do I know? This album sold by the bucketload and thus, lots of other MTV Unplugged albums followed. Secrets? No, just a night out for Mr Clapton, doing what he could have done at any stage in his career, only at half the speed. Everything is so damn plodding.

    Well, the evergreen 'Layla' raises a smile in an unplugged context, but then, it raises a smile in a plugged context. It's a good song. We're going real way back for the tunes 'Alberta' and 'Malted Milk', proper blues, proper blues. Eric does them well, but a whole bunch of other blues performers could have done them equally as well, if not better. Eric doesn't even so much as bring any personal characteristics to the equation, he just 'performs' them, in relaxed, nodding of head, style. Even the normally fabulous 'Rollin And Tumblin' barely raises a smile, and barely sounds more than professionally competent. Actually, it's played expertly, although bearing in mind the circumstances. Oh yes, he's playing without an electric guitar. Oh, MY! What a thing. Isn't that how everybody used to play anyway, when a load of these blues standards were recorded in the first place? Not 'Rollin And Tumblin' though. For that, I certainly direct you to the original Elmore James version. In fact, I wouldn't spend too much time listening to this at all, just listen to Robert Johnson, John Lee Hooker, Elmore James, etc, etc, etc. You'll have a far more rewarding time.

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    Readers Comments

    Andy andyniblo@hotmail.com
    I completely disagree with your review of the unpluggd album, but you are entitled to your opinio. Layla is amazing unplugged and Tears in Heaven is the most upsetting and real emotional song ever written. I think your statement that Clapton being Clapton is stupid, because ultimnately aren't all the recordings any band makes result in that band being that band. If they weren't being themselves then who would they be? Unplugged is an amazing album, not just from an unplugged POV, but from a muciasl POV. Andy Good review of Layla.

    I think that the unplugged album is one of the greatest displays of a true blues performance. The show on MTV is an unplugged classic. The over all tone of the show is raw and just plain depressing. Through the whole show I was wondering if Eric was going to blow his brains out. He plays most of the classics with ease, and its just a damn good blues show.

    Tommer tommersl@yahoo.com
    The original 'Role and Tumble Blues' song was recorded in 1927 by "Hambone" Willie Newbern and since that was covered by dozens of artists. That is the Blues, the performance of the song, the 'how' one did it is the aesthetics of the music. You can find 10 guys playing the same tune and enjoy each differently, if you are into the Blues, the real Blues aesthetics. It is true there are many blues artists that can play the Blues as good and better than Clapton, but many of those others on many times lacks character in the way they perform the music, something that Clapton has. Malted Milk, San Francisco Bay, Nobody Knows You, and Before You Accuse Me are good acoustic blues guitar performances.

    top of page From The Cradle( 1994 )
    Blues Before Sunrise / Third Degree / Reconsider Baby / Hoochie Coochie Man / Five Long Years / I'm Tore Down  / How Long Blues / Goin' Away Baby / Blues Leave Me Alone / Sinner's Prayer / Motherless Child / It Hurts Me Too / Someday After Awhile / Standin' Round Crying / Driftin' Blues / Groaning the Blues

    Eric goes back to his roots and does an all blues album. He does it well. 'From The Cradle' is a clever title and following 'Unplugged' this is all a little clever thing! One minor revelation for a non Claton 'enthusiast' such as myself, is the sound and tone and styles his voice covers across this albums generous sixteen songs. Sheer dirty growling for the opening 'Blues Before Sunrise' - neato guitar too! 'Third Degree' immediately switches the style, a slow brooding blues ballad with accomplished classy guitar and a vocal pitched just right. 'Hoochie Coochie Man' even gets a workout and manages to sound convincing and genuine rather than anything more tacky or unwelcome. 'I'm Tore Down' is pumpin', 'How Long Blues' is a slow Sunday afternoon drinking whiskey, etc and suchforth. All the while, Mr Clapton proves himself as a vocalist, something i'd never especially rated him highly for previously. So, that's something! 'From The Cradle' contains not a hint of the production or falsity some of his 80s works prodded your mind into thinking. 'From The Cradle' is pure Clapton - a very honest work above all else. By the way, I love the shuffle and sound Eric and friends achieve with 'Goin Away Baby' - the recording of these sixteen songs is just right. A good engineer, no obvious tricks, no pandering to commercialism. 'Goin Away Baby' just has such a great feel and sound. If you've any love of the blues at all - this should at least get your feet pumpin', you know?

    'From The Cradle' is a good Clapton album. It's more than that, it's a genuinely good blues album. True, Eric never penned something of his own to fit in amongst the true and moving versions of classic blues numbers featured here - perhaps he should have done? If there's one thought nagging at my mind as I sit listening to 'From The Cradle' and enjoying 'From The Cradle' - especially the feel and sound of the whole enterprise - it's just that, how artistic is this? It's beautifully played and felt and as I said earlier, Eric does prove himself as a vocalist - but how much of this is something that couldn't be done elsewhere by another bunch of talented blues lovers in a recording studio or room somewhere? You may be hard pressed to get together such a 'bunch' to produce an album quite so accomplished and enjoyable as this, that's true. Credit where credit is due and 'Motherless Child' is a favourite of mine here. Welcome acoustic textures and another enjoyable vocal performance from Mr Clapton. 'Driftin', similar comments apply, a lovely acoustic 'classic' blues styled performance and song. 'Unplugged' I had problems with - but there's always problems with the MTV unplugged recordings. Meant to be intimate and close up - they rarely come across that way when translated to CD. 'From The Cradle' does come across as intimate and close up, the sound is right. It's akin to Eric playing in your garage with a few of his fellow blues loving buddies, a good thing.

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    top of page Me And Mr Johnson( 2004 )
    When You Got A Good Friend / Little Queen Of Spades / They're Red Hot / Me And The Devil Blues / Travelling Riverside Blues / Last Fair Deal Gone Done / Stop Breaking Down Blues / Milkcow's Calf Blues / Kind Hearted Women Blues / Come On In My Kitchen / If I Had My Possession Of Judge / 32-20 Blues / Hell Hound On My Trail

    High quality music? Clapton has produced high quality music. Of course, revisiting the catalogue of blues great Robert Johnson isn't going to make for the most artistic or original album in the world, ever - but credit where credit is due. Eric is in fine form and the album has a nice, natural feel. Eric never tries to recreate the sound or duplicate Robert Johnson, he just plays the songs of Robert Johnson. Listening to, oh, I don't know, the original version of 'Last Fair Deal Gone Down' then comparing it to this new Clapton version, well. He's re-worked the thing. The original version still wins out every time. That's probably not the point of this album, though. You can't better those haunting Robert Johnson performances. So, what's really the POINT of this album? To introduce Robert Johnson to a new audience? Anybody that buys this new Clapton album will surely already be heavily aware of Robert Johnson. So, what's really the point? Well, it's easy. It's an easy thing to do. Credit where credit is due, however. Eric and band work up a nice natural sound. They sound like a band, Eric doesn't showboat or particularly dominate. It's like a nice night out at a particularly accomplished blues gig.

    'Come On In My Kitchen' is a giant of a song and the original Robert Johnson performance one of his very most haunting performances. Eric does a good job with this, considering its perdigree. Wonderful slide guitar, he does that 'hmmmm' and groans and the feel is lazily perfect. 'Milkcow's Calf Blues' lacks quite enough fire, although Eric and friends DO make a noise and Eric sounds engaged. Ultimately, its hard to pick too much fault with this album, it's a cool thing to listen to. Old blues made modern. Well, modern-ish. You know what i'd really like to see, though? Eric experimenting, Eric pushing the boundaries and pushing forwards. If he's not capable of that, then i'd like to see Jeff Beck covering Robert Johnson. Yeah, that old contemporary of Erics. The thing is, you see. Jeff would be sure to do something radical with the material. He'd make it sound so modern, your eyes and ears would pop out of your head. Just a thought.

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    As you say adrian "what is the point of this album" ? Clearly clapton has a deep respect for johnsons music but why turn these incredibly raw songs into something as pedestrian and polite as this ? The slower tracks are the more sucessful and but why not just buy the original record instead ? God knows its cheap enough ! Incidentally , the 2 johnson covers on unplugged "malted milk" and "walking blues" piss over anything else here as does that album in general which gave a far better picture of claptons blues influences .

    tommer tommersl@yahoo.com
    While this album is quite mediocre and disappointing, the album "Sessions for Robert J." Clapton did a few months later, which deals with a similar material, is better. I don't know why the "Me And Mr. Johnson" is the more famous one, perhaps a marketing thing, but "Sessions" is much better in terms of music IMHO!

    top of page this page last updated 4/11/07

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