Eric Clapton - History Of Eric Clapton
This compilation dates from the mid 1970's, from a time when Clapton went off the rails somewhat due to an inability to stop snorting the income from his early career up his nose. Clapton's inability at this time to put out anything worthy of note meant that his record company increasingly relied on compilations of his earlier material, undoubtedly his best in my view, to sustain him and them until he could get himself sorted out. It therefore has a kind of odd feel to it for me. I was too young to know Clapton at his best and therefore this is very much a retrospective look at a career which had sadly pretty much come to an end as an innovative and powerful force in music.
This is probably the best of the bunch of such compilations. As a double album it is large enough to cover most aspects of Clapton's work in the sixties. It opens with a Yardbirds track and goes right through to Derek and the Dominoes. It shows the wide-ranging and diverse musical styles with which Clapton had involved himself and provides a solid overview of his career. Some of it, such as the track by Powerhouse, has been largely forgotten, while other aspects, such as his dalliance with Delaney, Bonnie and Friends is perhaps best forgotten.
Because of its breadth, it is bound to contain tracks from some aspects of the great man's works that any given individual won't like, just as there will be some tracks which some will think should have been included but which have not been. But this is the price you pay with compilations, the ever present danger that you might not get everything you want on it. In this case, that is a chance worth taking.
Naturally, the Cream-era material is the best of it, including Robert Johnson's "Crossroads" which really shows off where Clapton got his influences from. The other Cream Tracks - "Tales of Brave Ulysses", "Sunshine of Your Love" and my personal favourite, "Badge" are among Cream's finest moments. (That wonderful looping guitar on "Badge" Still manages to send a shiver down my spine whenever I hear it). When you throw in the full length version of "Layla", this is a compilation which has got to be worth listening to. There is material here from the southern-country rockers Delaney, Bonnie and Friends as well as Clapton's brief stint with bluesman King Curtis on "Teasin'". Perhaps of most significance to complete-ophiles are the inclusion of a full jam of Derek and the Dominoes' "Tell the Truth" and the R&B influenced garage number "I Want to Know" by the ill-starred Powerhouse with whom Clapton played after he left the Yardbirds.
I am not sure if it is still available but if it is I suggest you go get it. It is a great summary of Clapton's early years.
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