Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

Polydor Records, 1970

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Pity poor Eric Clapton. In the span of two years, he saw one supergroup he was involved in (Cream) collapse under its own weight and another supergroup he played in (Blind Faith) crumble under its own pretentiousness. One had to wonder if the third time would be the charm for the British guitar god.

With the help of some members of Delaney and Bonnie's backing band, Clapton finally went the solo route with this 1970 self-titled release. And while it helped cement his position as a name to watch in rock music, it didn't quite show off Clapton's true glory. It is, in fact, shaky, but listenable.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Part of the problem turns out to be the backing band. When the sound takes on a New Orleans flavor with the horn sections, the songs tend to hit the wall pretty quickly. A solid instrumental base on "Slunky" is destroyed with this rhythm section. The focus should have been on Clapton's guitar playing, which seems to take a back seat to the rest of the music. In this case, this is a fatal mistake. (Even the help of musicians like Leon Russell hurt the overall case.)

The three songs that Eric Clapton is known for still have some moments of glory. "After Midnight" hasn't aged as well as we'd like to think it has, though this version still blows away the re-recording Clapton did in the '80s. "Blues Power" shows off a Clapton vocal that would later become his trademark, while "Let It Rain" is the true standout of this album, featuring a sound that Clapton would take one step further in Derek And The Dominoes.

What also stands out on this album is Clapton's acoustic guitar work on "Easy Now," a song which also demonstrates the beauty of his voice. (The subject matter of the song... well, let's just say you should listen very carefully, 'cause this ain't no cinammon and sugar love song. It's, aaah, a little stickier.) After hearing this song, I had to wonder why Clapton decided not to use more acoustic work on the album.

Other performances on Eric Clapton are hit-or-miss. Songs like "Lonesome And A Long Way From Home" and "Told You For The Last Time" show some of the brilliance Clapton had, while other cuts like "Bottle Of Red Wine" and "Bad Boy" tend to waste it. Even Clapton's attempts to dive into the blues don't soar like he would have liked them to. (Clapton would get the blues right much later on From The Cradle.)

Eric Clapton isn't a bad album by any definition, but it is admittedly spotty. Still, it's a better overall listen than some "classic" albums.

Rating: B-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Polydor Records, and is used for informational purposes only.