Category Archives: Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton Discography

This misguided miscreants who graffitoed “Clapton Is God” had got it wrong; God was God because he had created Clapton. Clapton, for his own part, had to be content with merely being the greatest living guitarist of his time. Yes, you could argue for Jimi Hendrix (although his time was too brief) or Frank Zappa (if you just like annoying people with your contrarian opinions), but artistically and commercially, collectively, Clapton is the man.

His early work with the Yardbirds and John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers earned him a reputation as a gifted young blues guitarist, but both of those jobs paled in comparison to what he achieved with Cream. With Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce, Clapton was arguably half of the world’s greatest trio as its guitar-playing demigod. He breathed life into the blues for a generation of rock fans and proved to be both an interesting songwriter (“Tales of Brave Ulysses”) and a decent singer (“Strange Brew,” “Badge”). After a few years as perhaps the greatest rock band of its time, Cream curdled and Clapton bounced between Blind Faith, Delaney & Bonnie Bramlett (with whom he recorded his first solo album) and Derek & The Dominoes.

The Seventies were an up-and-down decade for Clapton. A heroin addiction in the early going was the bottom, while commercially successful albums like 461 Ocean Boulevard (1974), Slowhand (1977) and Backless (1978) were the tops. In the Eighties, Clapton established his own Duck Records subsidiary with Warner Bros./Reprise and continued to release gold-selling albums that mixed modernized blues with Top 40 pop songs. By the Nineties, Clapton was both an international star and a spokesperson for the blues. Since then, he has continued to release new solo albums and share the limelight with B.B. King, J.J. Cale and the late Robert Johnson.

Now in its sixth decade, the career of Eric Clapton has been the epitome of steady and classy. When he does finally retire, he will leave behind the greatest recorded legacy of popular guitar music in history. No one has done more to preserve the legacy of the blues, or likely has inspired more young boys and girls to pick up a guitar, than Clapton. Not everything he has done is brilliant, but it has been a career brilliantly done from the very beginning until now.

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Eric Clapton: August (1986)

Kronomyth 14.0: THRILLER IN VANILLA. More than a comeback, August is the story of how Clapton got his groove back. Until now, Clapton had been, for better or worse, the white curator of dead black men’s music (Sleepy John Estes, Robert Johnson, Bob Marley). August eschews the blues/reggae history lesson for a full immersion in modern R&B featuring Lamont Dozier, Greg Phillinganes, Robert Cray, Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Stephen Bishop. The results are sometimes unexpected (“Behind The Mask,” “Hung Up On Your Love,” “Walk Away”) and often exciting (“Run,” “Miss You,” “Holy Mother,” “Tearing Us Apart”). In this new setting, the opening “It’s In The Way That You Use It,” recorded with Albert Lee and Henry Spinetti, almost sounds like a throwback to the old days rather than the contemporary hit that it was. Warner Bros. had to be happy with the results this time, as August is exactly what you would hope for in the pairing of two of the 80s biggest and most bankable stars, Phil Collins and Eric Clapton. Behind The Sun, his last record, was interesting but disjointed and ultimately underwhelming. August comes out swinging and never stops. Granted, ending the elpee with “Behind The Mask” is unsettling; the epic and guitar-driven “Grand Illusion,” which appeared only on CDs, brings the album full circle. Those expecting flashes of guitar brilliance may miss them if they blink, but in exchange for extended solos are some of Clapton’s best vocals in years; anyone who can get the best of Tina Turner in a duet is no second stringer. Rolling Stone, in their original review, called the album “stilted and disappointing,” but their zealous veneration for the blues is well documented and August is simply not a blues album in any sense; even the Robert Cray cover (“Bad Influence”) has a strong streak of mainstream pop in it. If, however, the idea of Clapton playing the King of Pop for a day is intriguing, August lives up to its name.

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Eric Clapton: “I’ve Got A Rock N’ Roll Heart” (1983)

Kronomyth 12.01: DUCK-MOBILE. This was Clapton’s first hit following his second stint in rehab. Written by Troy Seals, Eddie Setser and new songwriter Steve Diamond (Seals and Setser, you may recall, had penned “Black Rose” for Clapton’s last album), “I’ve Got A Rock N’ Roll Heart” has a catchy melody with a good hook and espouses the core American values of vintage Chevrolets and screaming guitars. I wouldn’t know a ’57 Chevy if it ran me over several times, dislike screaming guitars and thus, it appears, I do not have a rock ‘n’ roll heart (although my pancreas is partial to jazz). While this song was eventually tapped by T-Mobile years later (and enjoyed a brief resurgence), the songwriters might just as well have shopped this directly to Madison Avenue and avoided the middle man, since it’s tailor made for a truck commercial or a beer commercial or some product where the target audience would be likely to engage in a discussion of whether the ’57 Chevy really was the best Chevy model after the commercial was over. The B side is “Man In Love” from the same album, written by Clapton with a melody borrowed from somewhere, but otherwise a likeable song that shuffles along purposefully. Both songs are identical to their elpee versions and give a fair indication of what to expect on Money And Cigarettes. The single is non-collectible as such, unless the idea that it’s the first release on Duck Records floats your boat.

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Eric Clapton: “See What Love Can Do” (1985)

Kronomyth 13.2: LOVE IS NOT FOREVER. When Warner Bros. pushed Clapton to record some new tracks for Behind The Sun with their own producers, Eric pushed back by telling WB to provide the songs as well. Enter Jerry Lynn Williams, a Texas songwriter who furnished Clapton with two readymade hits: “Forever Man” and “See What Love Can Do.” I’ve always felt that Clapton got this song wrong; it’s really a hopeful song about the power of love, but Clapton sings it with a world-weary sadness. The lyrics actually anticipate the sentiment of Live Aid, but Clapton and Collins opted for a rendition of “She’s Waiting” instead. You can’t blame them, since it’s the better song; in fact, time has forgotten that it was “See What Love Can Do” and not “She’s Waiting” that charted. Warner Bros. may have had as much in mind, as they shaved almost a minute from “She’s Waiting” (including that annoying ending), making it more palatable to radio play.

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Eric Clapton: Behind The Sun (1985)

Kronomyth 13.0: YOU’RE NO SUN OF MINE. Phil Collins’ plans for world domination apparently included producing at least one Eric Clapton album. Warner Bros., it would seem, had other plans, and sent Clapton back into the studio with their own producers (Ted Templeman, Lenny Waronker) to record some professionally penned songs from Jerry Lynn Williams including “Forever Man” and “See What Love Can Do.” The result is an ungainly hybrid of overproduced crap (which would include the studio version of “She’s Waiting”), synthesizers and some decent songs from Clapton that are shuffled into the back of the family photo like unwanted stepchildren. Behind The Sun clicks some of the time, but not where you’d expect. The Phil Collins money shot, “She’s Waiting,” though not a bad song in and of itself, is a terrible vehicle for Clapton. The label-approved “Forever Man,” on the other hand, turns out to be the best song on the album, but the other two Williams tracks fall flat. The blues, Clapton’s strong suit of late, take a turgid turn on the eight-minute “Same Old Blues,” while the R&B chestnut “Knock On Wood” is whitewashed into the album’s blandest (albeit cleanest) track. The album only begins to hit its stride on the second side, where the Collins/Clapton pairing finally finds a comfortable middle ground between Collins’ synth-driven production values and Clapton’s core guitar, voice and personal songwriting. I can understand why Warner Bros. freaked out when they heard songs like “Behind The Sun,” since it represents a complete departure from what Clapton has done in the past, but they should have had the vision to see that songs like “It All Depends” and “Never Make Your Cry” (which sounds uncannily like Annie Lennox’ version of “No More I Love You’s”) were an ambitious extension of what Clapton had been doing all along. It’s almost as though Warner was too blinded by profit to see the value of what Collins and Clapton were doing. All most. Despite the temptation to label the album a comeback (it did sell a lot more copies than his last), Behind The Sun is hardly a bright spot in the constellation of Clapton.

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Money And Cigarettes (1983)

Kronomyth 12.0: ALL IRONED OUT. Clapton emerged clean from a second stint in rehab and, against doctor’s orders, was soon back in the studio making another album with a new band for a new label. Money And Cigarettes (the title alludes to what Clapton felt remained after losing alcohol) is, fittingly, a clean-sounding record featuring originals, a few blues covers and the professionally penned hit, “I’ve Got A Rock N’ Roll Heart.” The backing band is his tightest group yet, with Ry Cooder, Duck Dunn, Roger Hawkins and a returning Albert Lee (now mostly on keyboards). While the original material isn’t all that original (“Ain’t Going Down,” for example, is essentially a rewrite of “All Along The Watchtower”) and the blues covers are likely too slick to please purists, Money And Cigarettes does move at a good, brisk pace and Clapton seems re-energized on the record. There are a few songs on here that would seem to be written for wife Pattie: “The Shape You’re In,” “Pretty Girl” (a fine piece of pop) and “Man In Love.” Speaking of which, Clapton definitely has the upper hand over George Harrison this time; I’d encourage this album’s detractors to listen to Somewhere In England or Gone Troppo before pronouncing judgment. Although the album didn’t go gold, it did mark the beginning of a second commercial wind that helped Clapton sail through the 80s. From this point forward, a Clapton record could be expected to feature crisp, clean pop and blues with at least one big hit on it. In a sense, the 80s smoothed out the rough edges of the 70s Clapton, which made for a better (if more predictable) product.

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Time Pieces – The Best of Eric Clapton (1982)

Kronomyth 11.0: REHAB, RINSE, REPEAT. In 1982, Clapton entered rehab and into a new contract with Warner Bros., prompting RSO to release this “greatest hits” compilation. I put those words in quotation marks because, really, what RSO has assembled here are Clapton’s greatest covers: “I Shot The Sheriff,” “Cocaine,” “After Midnight,” “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” “Promises.” Also included are “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Willie And The Hand Jive,” two songs that few consider among Clapton’s most timeless recordings. Certainly, RSO had a profit in mind when they assembled Time Pieces, but you can’t help but wonder if there weren’t a little revenge here at work as well. At the time of its release, this was the lowest charting of Clapton’s official U.S. releases, but over the years steadily increasing sales have made it one of his biggest-selling records in the U.S. (only Unplugged has sold more copies). The album has its shortcomings—too few tracks, choosing the live version of “Cocaine” over the superior studio version, leaving out “I Can’t Stand It” and “Let It Rain”—which subsequent releases partially addressed by adding one more track, “Let It Grow.” Since that’s about all I have to say on the matter, I’ll spend a moment on the Legend of Blackie, the guitar depicted on the front and back cover of this album (I say “depicted” because it’s unlikely that Clapton lent his famous black Stratocaster or less-famous Gibson Memphis to RSO for the album cover shoot). For those unfamiliar with the tale, Clapton bought six 1950s-era Stratocasters in a Nashville music shop (Sho-Bud), gifting three of them to George Harrison, Pete Townsend and Steve Winwood. The remaining three were re-assembled by a Nashville-based luthier into a single guitar, dubbed Blackie (joining his earlier sunburst-finish Strat, Brownie). Blackie debuted on The Rainbow Concerts and remained an integral part of Clapton’s career until the mid Eighties. It was eventually auctioned off in 2004 to Guitar Center for a little under $1 million in a charity event to fund Clapton’s newly opened rehab facility in Antigua, the Crossroads Centre. The whole thing always struck me as a sort of samurai tale of rock and roll, starring The Six and the Three That Became One. Or maybe I just have way too much time on my hands.

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Eric Clapton: Another Ticket (1981)

Kronomyth 10.0: ANOTHER ALCOHOLIDAY. Just another Eric Clapton album on the surface, though things were apparently falling apart underneath. What’s here is actually his second attempt at a first album with his new English band, the original sessions having been produced by Glyn Johns in the Spring and rejected by RSO soon after. A couple of songs were carried over from the first attempt (e.g., “Rita Mae,” “Something Special”) but it was the addition of songs like “I Can’t Stand It,” “Another Ticket” and “Black Rose” that made the difference. Produced by Tom Dowd in the Bahamas, Another Ticket marks a turning point of sorts for Clapton toward a crisper, confident, streamlined sound. Gone was the loose, shuffling sound of Tulsa, replaced by a crackerjack squad of English ringers: Albert Lee, Gary Brooker, Henry Spinetti and Dave Markee. Really, all you need to do is wind these fellers up and watch them run. I wouldn’t tell you that Another Ticket is a better album than Backless (they’re about equal), but it is a more consistent record. His vocals seem more confident, his guitar solos stand out a little sharper and the blues covers (“Floating Bridge,” “Blow Wind Blow”) are stamped with Clapton’s personality. The backing band stays in the background, no small feat given the star presence of Brooker and Lee, the latter sharing the leads only on the aptly titled “Catch Me If You Can.” Among the middle-pack Clapton albums, Another Ticket is as good a destination as any for fans. It’s too bad they didn’t stick together for a second album, but you can hear a couple of leftovers on Gary Brooker’s album, Lead Me To The Water (1982).

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Eric Clapton: “I Can’t Stand It” (1981)

Kronomyth 10.01: ERICONOMICAL. The Eric Clapton of the 80s was another animal altogether. The music and the man were cleaner, the voice was confident, the band was English. The first single from Another Ticket, “I Can’t Stand It,” snaps and bristles with emotion and energy. It’s the anomaly on an underwhelming album, yet a sign of things to come as Clapton combined the past (blues, country) with present-day studio production to help usher in a new age of modern blues. The flip side, “Black Rose,” is country Clapton, Eric singing the main verses with audible aplomb and Gary Brooker (I’m pretty sure) joining on the chorus. Both songs are identical to the elpee versions that appear on Another Ticket.

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“Tulsa Time (live)” (1980)

Kronomyth 9.1 TOKYO TIME. Eric used to open this song with a dedication to his Tulsan backing band, but that was then and this was a few months later with a completely different and English band. Unlike the Don Williams’ version, which is more of a pure country song, Clapton’s version of “Tulsa Time” sounds like a Chuck Berry cover. (Clapton also includes the words “damn” in his version.) Despite the new band, there’s no big difference between this version, previous live versions or the original version that appeared on Backless. The single version of “Tulsa Time” is shorter than the elpee version on Just One Night; the flip side version of “Cocaine” significantly so. Recorded in Japan, where “Cocaine” was released as a single, the audience clearly relishes the performance. The solo on “Cocaine” is especially interesting, with Clapton getting a talk box effect from his pedals.

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