Friday, 14 January 2005

Reports of Clapton's death have been greatly exaggerated

Clapton has been a favorite of mine for well over twenty years now. The article below seems a little odd to me, since I take the opposite view of Clapton’s work in recent years. From 1974 to 1994 he was largely marking time, rather than using his talent to good effect. Don’t get me wrong. He had numerous good songs (“Motherless Children”, “Crosscut Saw”) during the time, and the best of them, like the two I listed, were covers of old blues standards.

In 1994 he released ”From The Cradle”, a fabulous album and the best he had done since the early 1970s. With the exception of Pilgrim, he’s done pretty well in recent years. Me & Mr. Johnson is a particularly good addition to his recent work.

Clapton’s now working on a Cream reunion and if I lived in London I would probably attend. The critic below is way too, er, critical, in my view:

I don’t think there’s an artist of Eric Clapton’s stature (and we’re talking about someone who’s jostling around at the Jimmy Page, Stevie Wonder level of things) who has urinated so ruinously over his own legacy. Why is it that David Bowie can spend decades releasing tosh, with seemingly no effect on our estimation of his ‘great works’, and yet Eric Clapton seemingly has the power to do things which make us despise the whole creature.

We could easily have forgiven him for getting tangled up with Phil Collins in the mid-1980s (that whole the August / Behind the Mask no-jacket-requiredy era) but it was when he started “doing the blues” again that it all started to stink. I remember hearing one of his Royal Albert Hall blues get-togethers on Radio 2 (I think). It was the 1990 one, which had Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray and Jimmy Vaughn on guitar (how many cooks do you need to spoil the blues?) and Phil Collins on tambourine.


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I think what separates Clapton from Bowie is that Bowie generally only had a small period of “great” work that pushed the envelope at the time (Think Ziggy Stardust). Clapton has become a one-trick pony in a genre that alread y has a good number of greats ahead of him. That and the fact that his “signature” guitar style ineeds to be put out to pasture.

He did a good job with the MTV unplugged bit, but beyond that, he’s way out of his prime, and should be touring small clubs in the rural southeast. But because he’s mister white-boy blues, he gets a pass.



Needless to say, I disagree. I love his guitar playing and listen to his music even when it has gone in directions that don’t suit me. Not everything can be Derek & The Dominos or Cream. He did peek in the late 60s and early 70s, but made a pretty good comeback in 1994.

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