Artist: Eric Clapton
Album: Nothing But The Blues
As a three time Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee and the winner of 18 Grammy Awards it is difficult to find something to say about Eric Clapton that the music world doesn't already know. Clearly, he has been a major force in the music business for decades. This latest release of 17 tracks captured live in 1994 at The Fillmore in San Francisco is everything a blues fan can expect from Mr. Clapton. He is in a practically microscopic group of musicians that have the ability to emote through their instrument on the level that he has for over 50 years.
As a longtime fan of his playing I have always been most drawn to his straight blues efforts and this record is no exception. When Clapton plays a 12 Bar Blues the listener can’t help but to be drawn in by the authenticity and depth. When he is firing on all cylinders it is something to behold. If you have not heard a lot of his blues music I suggest Have You Ever Loved A Woman from the Layla album and you will hear why he is revered at the highest levels of the blues community.
Early In The Morning is a highlight for me from this latest release. The guitar solo section has his unmistakable fingerprints on full display. His tone and "Slow Hand" touch have inspired countless players for years including newcomers, peers and most impressively making a lasting impression on many of the musicians that influenced him as a young man. As a musician it is the highest compliment to get the stamp of approval from one of your influences, and he has gotten most of them to turn their heads in admiration.
He seems to reinvent his legendary version of Crossroads every few years. This version has a NOLA vibe to it. It's quite funky and sweaty. I may be in the minority when I say that I prefer his later versions of the Robert Johnson classic versus the classic Cream version of the song. This particular take on it is one of the greasier swipes that I have heard. A very enjoyable listen for sure.
One of my favorite blues cuts from Clapton has always been the Otis Rush classic Groaning The Blues that can be found on his 1994 album From The Cradle. I am so pleased to see that it was in the live set at this time and made this album. If I had to pick three Clapton songs from his entire catalog to introduce someone to his music, this song would undoubtedly make the cut. When EC hits the zone it is blatantly obvious why his ability to deliver the blues has been marvelled at for over a half century. This live version is an absolutely breathtaking performance that comes roaring through his amplifier like a stampede.
If you want to take a stroll through Bluesville in the hands of a master backed by a stellar band, this album is a great introduction into the depths of what makes Mr. Clapton a force of nature. The playing and vocals are top shelf and a lesson in the power of the blues. I highly recommend this album for the casual fan as well as a measuring stick for musicians of how effective simplicity can be in the right hands.