It wasn’t long before Polydor’s efforts to skim every inch of profit from Cream reached ridiculous proportions: a series of four double elpees, one dedicated to the music of Cream and three to the solo efforts of its three members. In an admirable move of economy (he mocked), Polydor used the artwork for the Cream compilation, Heavy Cream, as the template for the other three sets, so that if you laid the albums of Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker atop one another, the Heavy Cream cover was reproduced. Of course, these optical tricks may have been designed to take attention away from the fact that neither Baker, Bruce nor Clapton had released enough solo music since Cream to justify the double lp’ing. In Clapton’s case, At His Best covers the first Blind Faith album, the first Derek and the Dominos album and his first solo album. That’s a four-elpee body of work divided in half, which explains how “Slunky” got past the bouncers. Nothing essential is absent from At His Best except maybe for Blind Faith’s “Had to Cry Today,” nothing undeserving of its place here except the aforementioned instrumental and the unremarkable “Lonesome and a Long Way from Home.” In retrospect, Polydor would have served listeners better by combining the three solo double elpees into a single triple elpee with one album each from Baker, Bruce and Clapton, but I’m pretty sure you’d need to calculate the cosine of something to figure it all out.
Original 2LP Version
- Bottle of Red Wine (Bonnie Bramlett/Eric Clapton) 3:06
- Anyday (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) 6:33
- I Looked Away (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) 3:02
- Let It Rain (Bonnie Bramlett/Eric Clapton) 5:07
- Lonesome And A Long Way From Home (Bonnie Bramlett/Leon Russell) 3:43
- Sea of Joy (Steve Winwood) 5:23
- Layla (Eric Clapton/Jim Gordon) 7:01
- Blues Power (Eric Clapton/Leon Russell) 3:10
- Bell Bottom Blues (Eric Clapton) 5:00
- After Midnight (John J. Cale) 3:11
- Keep On Growing (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) 6:20
- Little Wing (Jimi Hendrix) 5:31
- Presence of The Lord (Eric Clapton) 4:48
- Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad? (Eric Clapton/Bobby Whitlock) 4:41
- Easy Now (Eric Clapton) 2:58
- Slunky (Bonnie Bramlett/Eric Clapton) 3:33
- Key To The Highway (Charles Segar/Willie Broonzy) 9:39
Eric Clapton (guitars & lead vocals), Jim Gordon (drums), Carl Radle (bass guitar, percussion), Bobby Whitlock (organ, piano, vocals, acoustic guitar) with J.I. Allison (vocals), Duane Allman (guitars), Ginger Baker (drums), Bonnie Bramlett (vocals), Delaney Bramlett (rhythm guitar & vocals), Rita Coolidge (vocals), Sonny Curtis (vocals), Rick Grech (bass guitar), Bobby Keys (sax), Jim Price (trumpet), Leon Russell (piano), John Simon (piano), Stephen Stills (guitar), Steve Winwood (vocals, organ, guitar). Recordings engineered by Ron Albert, Chuck Kirkpatrick, Howie Albert, Carl Richardson and Mac Emmerman. Research and collation by Shelley Snow.
Released on 2LP and double 8-track set in October 1972 in the US (Polydor, PD/8F-3503) and in April 1973 in the UK (RSO, 2659 025); reached #87 on the US charts. The 8-track versions feature a different track order.
- Re-issued on 2LP in 1980 in Japan (RSO, MWU-9713/4).