There are – of course – far too many Eric Clapton compilations on the market, more than he probably knows (or cares) about. But this one is particularly vile, a 3CD set to showcase his Reprise Records years, a 30 year holding pattern up to and including 2013’s dismal, fusty Old Sock. Look, I’m enough of a Clapton fan – in the past, anyway – to enjoy the odd 80s misstep, like the title track for this compilation. And in the late 1980s/early 1990s there was some decent efforts – horrifically dated though they are now.
There’s something deceitful or counter-intuitive about this collection – the last 30 years of Clapton’s career could only exist because of the 15 years before – in fact any (and all) the Clapton you really (ever) need happened between 1966 and 1974. Alright, stretch it out to the very late 1970s if you have to – but actually his “solo” career exists because of the name-making band work. And for a record company to believe that there is three discs worth of gold after he did his best work is a lie. Nothing more. And often, when you can make it through this slow-handed crawl, it’s a whole lot less.
The 80s pop-lite junk sounds largely awful but even the 24 Nights material (which I had a fondness for and like to believe I can still see the good in it) doesn’t work here. And what a lazy, sneaky way of cashing in on that legacy, to have Reprise-recorded versions of Cream material rather than an actual career-spanning/defining set.
Living legend, people like to believe. But this set does nothing other than show the vacuous void that has been the majority of Clapton’s career. Uninspired songs, dated productions, lazy playing. It’s so safe as to be insulting.
And, also, no fan needs this – for it adds no value. Anyone still believing Clapton to be the man will have the very best of this material already.
How truly worrying to think that an honest career summary of Clapton’s highlights across the last 30 years would take up three-quarters of an EP only.
That’s a cold, hard truth.