Eric Clapton is, no doubt about it, one of the finest
musicians of his lifetime. After being a founder member of the Yardbirds, then
moving onto John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, followed by Cream, Blind Faith, and
Derek and the Dominos, Eric Clapton then lived the life of a virtual recluse
for the next three years, only being lured out twice to perform at the Concert
for Refugee Children from Bangladesh, organized by his friend George Harrison
in 1971, and by Peter Townshend of The Who fame who was attempting to get his
old friend out of the house. It worked because in 1974 Eric Clapton
re-introduced himself to the public with a fine solo album, 461 Ocean
Boulevard, and a new band, actually Bob Seger’s old band, plus former
sidekick Carl Radle from the Domino days.
Eric Clapton remained a solo artist for the next thirty
years. During this time Clapton has remained at the top of the rock ‘n’
roll tree, proving himself to be a fine all round bloke making many charity
appearances for the like of Live Aid, The Princes Trust Concerts, etc.
Producing many fine albums with an always changing line up
of suitable musicians, along with legendary concert appearances, many of which
have been recorded and released, EC Was Here (1975), Just One Night (1980), 24
Nights (1991) and the acoustic smash hit Unplugged (1992).
But his studio work became tamer and tamer as time went by,
as Eric Clapton himself began to look more like a bank manager than the bank
robber of yore.
Of course Eric Clapton did completely redeem himself in the
Nineties and Noughties with some splendid blues studio albums, such as From The
Cradle (1994), Riding with the King (2000), a collaboration with B.B. King, and
Me and Mr Johnson (2004), an album of covers from the songbook of Robert
Johnson. But the studio albums that have appeared in the last decade of
Clapton’s own compositions, and selected covers, have been a little weak,
Pilgrim (1998) and Reptile (2001) being the culprits.
In 2005 Eric Clapton recreated a lot of interest in rock
‘n’ roll circles by getting Cream back together, and performing some of the
best concerts by a power trio in many an age. The CD and DVD releases of these
concerts provide the proof of that pudding.
Mott the Dog thought it would be worth seeing what Eric
Clapton was up to these days in the studio, as Clapton goes into his seventh
decade, on the back of those rockin’ Cream concerts. On first listening to
Back Home released at the end of August 2005, I thought I was listening to a
very poor Michael Bolton album, except that Michael Bolton has a lot better
voice, selects better songs, is better produced, to be honest is far more rock
‘n’ roll, and to my dismay uses the electric guitar a lot more.
I am more than happy for musical artists to diversify, as
long as what they do is at least worthwhile. Back Home isn’t. I am sorry Mr.
Clapton but what happened to your guitar? Only once or twice in the conclusion
to a couple of numbers can a lead guitar be heard and then well down in the
mix, usually submerged beneath flimsy backing vocals and sweeping string
The album limps in with the first of songs co-written
between Eric Clapton and Simon Climie, aptly titled So Tired, it barely limps
out of your speakers. The best thing that can be said about So Tired is that it
delays second song Say What You Will from starting for more than four and a
half minutes. Stevie Wonder’s I’m Going Left simply just lies down without
making the slightest effort.
Unbelievably the next cover version is an old Platter’s
song, Love Don’t Love Nobody. This is where the strings and lush backing
vocals start in earnest. It is hard to believe that this song was recorded by
Eric Clapton - the man who’s guitar powered along songs such as I’m So Glad
First single off the album is the Clapton/Climie Revolution,
which is a foolish attempt at re-doing the Bob Marley song I Shot The Sheriff,
which Eric Clapton had a number one hit with in The United States in 1974.
Singing revolution time and time again over a reggae beat does not make a
The George Harrison song Love Comes To Everybody is so laid
back as to be vertical. The only attempt at blues/rock is a song called Lost
and Found, which collapses around its own riff, and when it does struggle to
get going is abruptly cut off. Unfortunately from here the album goes
dramatically downhill, which is quite an achievement in itself.
Reprise / Duck Records should know better than releasing
this rubbish, even if it does have a big name to promote it with. This only
dupes the unsuspecting paying public. Eric Clapton has also surrounded himself
with gifted musicians who also should have known better than lending their
names to this. If you want something from Eric Clapton to take back home, stick
to the Cream Reunion shows.
Some of the Musicians who did
Eric Clapton: Vocals, and presumably some guitar somewhere
John Mayer: Guitars
Billy Preston: Keyboards
Andy Fairweather Lowe: Guitars, Vocals
Steve Winwood: Synthesizer
Chris Stainton: Fender Rhodes
Pino Paladino: Bass
Abraham Laboriel jnr: Drums
Plus Eric Clapton’s regular backing band whom I am sure would rather not be
Say What You Will
I’m Going Left
Love Don’t Love Nobody
Love Comes To Everyone
Lost And Found
Piece Of My Heart
One Track Mind
Run Home To Me