CD Review of Complete Clapton by Eric Clapton
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Eric Clapton:
Complete Clapton

Reviewed by R. David Smola


lapton is God? Maybe not, but he sits as an elder on the rock Mount Olympus. Through his work as a solo artist and as an integral part of bands like Cream, Blind Faith and Derek & the Dominos, Clapton has ingrained his guitar playing into our collective consciousness. In 1988, a thorough examination of his work was released as the four-disc box Crossroads. That release has greater depth in regards to his activity in those legendary bands and his early solo work, but it stops in 1988. Clapton has been releasing excellent material since then, and the second disc of this collection features that material.

As a general postulate, a two-disc collection couldn’t possibly capture every highlight for a man with a resume as long as old Slowhand. With that established, this set does a nice job of providing a sketch of the high points. Disc One contains five Cream tracks, “Presence of the Lord” from Blind Faith, two Derek & the Dominos classics, and seven tracks from his early solo career, also featured on 1982’s Time Pieces: The Best of Eric Clapton.

Only two songs overlap between Disc Two of Complete and Crossroads: “She’s Waiting” and “Miss You.” The other 15 tracks hit across a wide range of material. The slick AOR sound of “Forever Man,” from 1984’s Behind the Sun, the heart-wrenching “Tears In Heaven,” written cathartically to deal with the death of his young son and pulled from the soundtrack of the 1992 film Rush, and “Ride The River” from 2006’s The Road to Escondido collaboration with J.J. Cale are Disc Two songs. “Riding with the King,” an absolutely joyous duet with the elder statesman of blues guitar, B.B. King, is my favorite song on the second disc. The only quibble, a minor one at that, is the inclusion of a rather pedestrian version of “Sweet Home Chicago” from Sessions for Robert J; I would have preferred the Michelob commercial version of “After Midnight” instead. Any way you look at it, Sheryl Crow’s favorite mistake has yet another very cool best-of collection on the market.

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