[Review] Eric Clapton: Behind The Sun (1985)

Slowhand makes a modern synthesizer album with Phil Collins and it actually sounds pretty good.

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. apparently 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 synthetic studio pop (which would include the likeable “She’s Waiting”), modern machines and some decent songs from Clapton that are shuffled to 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, isn’t a particularly good 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 stripped-down emotion.

I can understand why Warner Bros. freaked out when they heard songs like “Behind The Sun,” since they represent a complete departure from what Clapton has done in the past. Still, 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.

Original LP version

A1. She’s Waiting (Eric Clapton/Peter Robinson) (4:54)
A2. See What Love Can Do (Jerry Lynn Williams) (3:59)
A3. Same Old Blues (Eric Clapton) (8:12)
A4. Knock On Wood (Eddie Floyd/Steve Cropper) (3:18)
A5. Something’s Happening (Jerry Lynn Williams) (3:22)
B1. Forever Man (Jerry Lynn Williams) (3:12)
B2. It All Depends (Eric Clapton) (5:04)
B3. Tangled In Love (Marcy Levy/Richard Feldman) (4:07)
B4. Never Make You Cry (Eric Clapton) (6:05)
B5. Just Like A Prisoner (Eric Clapton) (5:30)
B6. Behind The Sun (Eric Clapton) (2:11)

The Players

Eric Clapton (vocals, guitar, background vocals, Roland guitar synthesizer), Phil Collins (Simmons and snare drum, drums, shaker, background vocals, vocals, synthesizers), Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass guitar), Marcy Levy (background vocals), Jamie Oldaker (drums, background vocals), Peter Robinson (synthesizer), Chris Stainton (synthesizer, Hammond organ, piano, Fender Rhodes) with Lindsey Buckingham (rhythm guitar on track 5), Lenny Castro (congas on tracks 2 & 6), Ray Cooper (percussion, gong, bongos), Nathan East (bass guitar, background vocals), James Newton Howard (synthesizer on track 5), Steve Lukather (rhythm guitar on tracks 2 & 6), Shaun Murphy (background vocals), Michael Omartian (synthesizers on tracks 2 & 6), Greg Phillinganes (synthesizer and background vocals on track 5), Jeff Porcaro (drums on tracks 2 & 6), Ted Templeman (tambourine, shaker and timbales on tracks 5 & 6), Jerry Williams (background vocals on tracks 2 & 5). Produced by Phil Collins except tracks 2, 5 & 6 produced by Ted Templeman and Lenny Waronker; engineered by Nick Launay (tracks 2, 5 & 6 engineered by Lee Herschberg); mixed by Mark Linett.

Did You Know?

  • The three Jerry Lynn Williams songs were added after Warner Bros. rejected the original album and asked that Clapton record additional material with their producers (Templeman, Waronker). Clapton, in turn, asked that Warner provide the material too.
  • Dunn, Oldaker and Stainton were part of Clapton’s touring band at the time. They appeared (along with Phil Collins) during Clapton’s performance at Live Aid in July 1985. Clapton played “White Room,” “She’s Waiting” and “Layla.”

The Pictures
Art direction, design and paintings by Larry Vigon. Photography by Patti Clapton.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, compact disc and cassette on March 11, 1985 in the UK (Warner Bros., 92 5166-1/2/4), the US (Duck/Warner Bros., 25166-1/2/4), Brazil (Warner Bros., 6107 043), Germany (Warner Bros., 925 166-1/4) and Japan (Warner Bros., P-13069). Reached #8 on the UK charts and #34 on the US charts (RIAA certified platinum record).

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in 1989 in Japan (Warner, 20P2-2038).
  2. Re-released on remastered compact disc on September 19, 2000 in the US (Warner Bros., 47735) and in Japan (Warner Bros., WPCR-11103).
  3. Re-released on remastered 2LP in 2010 in the US (Reprise).
  4. Re-released on limited edition hybrid super audio compact disc on March 31, 2014 in the US (Audio Fidelity, AFZ 175).

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