Eric Clapton - The Cream Of Clapton
Polydor  (1994)
Classic Rock

In Sammlung
#80

7*
CD    18 tracks  (72:46) 
   01   Layla       Derek and the Dominos Derek & the Dominos' album Layla was Eric Clapton's dark night of the soul, and the title song was its masterpiece - an anguished plea to a forbidden love that was Clapton's barely disguised letter to Patti Boyd, the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. Clapton had never sounded as pained as he did here, and he never sounded as tortured again - not even on "Tears in Heaven," written after the tragic death of his young son. "Layla" is pure catharsis, followed by a coda written by Jim Gordon that is nothing less than bliss, the sound of love fulfilled. Even though that coda was used to terrific effect in Martin Scorsese's 1990 masterpiece Goodfellas, most listeners remember "Layla" for the incendiary, fiery riff that fuels the first section of the song. Easily one of the best-known guitar licks in rock history, the riff was ironically borrowed from a T-Bone Walker vocal riff, which may be the reason Clapton phased it out in his acoustic shuffle reworking in 1991. As pleasant as that version is - and it is quite nice - it excised the pain that surges through the original recording, while eliminating the masterful coda that ends the song on a grace note. In other words, he changed the very meaning of the song - the juxtaposition of the intense blues of the body of the song and the sweetness of the coda was at the heart of the song. Nobody else could figure out a way around that juxtaposition until Clapton reinterpreted it for his Unplugged recording. It was an admirable reworking, but Derek & the Dominos' original recording remains one of the towering moments in rock & roll history. - Stephen Thomas Erlewine       07:10
   02   Badge       Cream       02:43
   03   I Feel Free       Cream       02:54
   04   Sunshine Of Your Love       Cream       04:13
   05   Crossroads       Cream       04:13
   06   Strange Brew       Cream       02:47
   07   White Room       Cream       05:01
   08   Bell Bottom Blues       Derek and the Dominos Picking up where he left off with "Presence of the Lord," his one songwriting contribution to the short-lived supergroup Blind Faith, Eric Clapton appropriates the title of a jaunty old Teresa Brewer show tune and delivers the fiery passion of "Bell Bottom Blues." Rarely has Clapton reached the heights on his recordings that he hit with his guitar playing, songwriting, and most impressively, his heart-wrenching vocal performance on the song, from the album Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs (1970). Like "Presence of the Lord," "Bell Bottom Blues" follows a descending soul-music chord progression for its verses. Unhappy with the way Blind Faith turned out, Clapton co-opted the ace sidemen from Delaney and Bonnie, the band who opened for Blind Faith's tour, and assembled a group for his new project, Derek & the Dominos. The resulting album seemed to reflect what was in his heart more closely than anything he had done before or after, until his heartbreaking elegy for his son, "Tears in Heaven." Caught in a quagmire of substance abuse and a frustrating unrequited love triangle with his best friend, George Harrison's wife, Clapton turns in some of the best performances of his long career on the album. All one has to do to hear the level of romantic frustration Clapton must have been feeling is listen to "Bell Bottom Blues"' pre-chorus and chorus lines of, "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 to it because I don't want to fade away." Clapton reaches in deep and lets out a full-throated, desperate, and soulful roar for these lines, juxtaposed with a mournful, world-weary longing on the verses: "Bell bottom blues/You made me cry/I don't want to lose this feeling/If I could chose a place to die/It would be in your arms." One can only speculate why Clapton seemingly abandoned the soulful approach he employed on such songs. Perhaps in order to find it once, he had to go to a place of personal anguish too painful to return to again. If there was any doubt that the passion was fleeting, take a listen to the listless performance of the song on 1991's 24 Nights, in which Clapton sleepwalks through the song, allowing backup singers to take over the chorus and awash in John Tesh-like orchestration by Michael Kamen and the National Philharmonic Orchestra. It must be one of the most egregious instances of an artist undoing his own legacy. Clapton seems spurred on by the performances of his mates, including the blistering guitar work of Duane Allman, who plays on much of the album, though not on "Bell Bottom Blues." It is as if Clapton is going for the same level of soul that Allman's brother, Gregg, has been known for. Bobby Whitlock provides the gospel sound of the Hammond organ and some wrenching vocal harmonies. Carl Radle plays the bass and additional percussion, while Jim Gordon plays the drums. Clapton layers the track with guitars, including two interwoven lead parts and a bluesy solo, with a famous sustaining note. But it his vocal performance that is remarkable; not only one of his personal best, but one of the finest in rock & roll. - Bill Janovitz       05:04
   09   Cocaine             03:35
   10   I Shot The Sheriff             04:24
   11   After Midnight       An up-tempo, funky single debut for Eric Clapton as a solo artist, "After Midnight" clearly showed Clapton going in a more simplified, soul/ rock direction after Blind Faith and Cream. The influence of the song's writer, J.J. Cale, and current musical collaborator, Delaney Bramlett, is clearly evident. Clapton's guitar playing is also much different, and he was utilizing the stinging tones of a Fender Stratocaster, exclusively. Clapton revisited the song in the late '80s, when he re-recorded it for a very successful Michelob beer commercial. - Matthew Greenwald       03:11
   12   Swing Low Sweet Chariot             03:28
   13   Lay Down Sally             03:52
   14   Knockin On Heavens Door             04:24
   15   Wonderful Tonight       One of Eric Clapton's biggest hits from the 1970s, "Wonderful Tonight" was inspired by his then-wife, Patti. While growing impatient waiting for her to dress for a party, Clapton wrote this more out of impatience than love. However, the end result is one of the most touching love ballads of the decade, conveying his emotions with a tender clarity. Musically, there is an almost country feel to the music; this is barely under the surface, as the melody and changes have a sense of pop craftsmanship that would continue to serve Clapton well into the 1990s. - Matthew Greenwald       03:41
   16   Let It Grow             04:57
   17   Promises             03:00
   18   I Can't Stand It       One of Eric Clapton's biggest hits from the early '80s, this song found him continuing, in his words, "to be as much a musicologist as a musician." After exploring country music throughout the '70s, he began experiments like this, a solid, soul-oriented rocker. The lyrics have a venomous jealousy, and they are some of Clapton's most literate of the period. Musically, some classic, almost Booker T. & the M.G.'s-styled chord changes highlight the driving tempo, providing Clapton with a huge hit. - Matthew Greenwald       04:09
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ERIC CLAPTON
By the time Eric Clapton launched his solo career with the release of his self-titled debut album in mid-1970, he was long established as one of the world's major rock stars due to his group affiliations - the Yardbirds, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Cream, and Blind Faith - affiliations that had demonstrated his claim to being the best rock guitarist of his generation. That it took Clapton so long to go out on his own, however, was evidence of a degree of reticence unusual for one of his stature. And his debut album, though it spawned the Top 40 hit "After Midnight," was typical of his self-effacing approach: it was, in effect, an album by the group he had lately been featured in, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.
Not surprisingly, before his solo debut had even been released, Clapton had retreated from his solo stance, assembling from the D&B&F ranks the personnel for a group, Derek and the Dominos, with which he played for most of 1970. Clapton was largely inactive in 1971 and 1972, due to heroin addiction, but he performed a comeback concert at the Rainbow Theatre in London on January 13, 1973, resulting in the album Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert (September 1973).

But Clapton did not launch a sustained solo career until July 1974, when he released 461 Ocean Boulevard, which topped the charts and spawned the number one single "I Shot the Sheriff."

The persona Clapton established over the next decade was less that of guitar hero than arena rock star with a weakness for ballads. The follow-ups to 461 Ocean Boulevard, There's One in Every Crowd (March 1975), the live E.C. Was Here (August 1975), and No Reason to Cry (August 1976), were less successful. But Slowhand (November 1977), which featured both the powerful "Cocaine" (written by JJ Cale, who had also written "After Midnight") and the hit singles "Lay Down Sally" and "Wonderful Tonight," was a million-seller. Its follow-ups, Backless (November 1978), featuring the Top Ten hit "Promises," the live Just One Night (April 1980), and Another Ticket (February 1981), featuring the Top Ten hit "I Can't Stand It," were all big sellers.

Clapton's popularity waned somewhat in the first half of the '80s, as the albums Money and Cigarettes (February 1983), Behind the Sun (March 1985), and August (November 1986) indicated a certain career stasis. But he was buoyed up by the release of the box set retrospective Crossroads (April 1988), which seemed to remind his fans of how great he was. Journeyman (November 1989) was a return to form.

It would be his last new studio album for nearly five years, though in the interim he would suffer greatly and enjoy surprising triumph. On March 20, 1991, Clapton's four-year-old son was killed in a fall. While he mourned, he released a live album, 24 Nights (October 1991), culled from his annual concert series at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and prepared a movie soundtrack, Rush (January 1992). The soundtrack featured a song written for his son, "Tears in