Being critical of an album by someone who used to have the words “Is God” emblazoned directly after his name is a difficult thing to do. It’s even more difficult to do when it’s a greatest hits album, and when it does nothing spectacular. This is the case with Eric Clapton’s “best of” compilation.
I would recommend Clapton Chronicles to those who don’t consider themselves big Clapton fans, as it does offer a nice mix of his songs from the last decade or so. Normally to recommend a greatest hits album to a big fan of an artist, I think the record should do one of two things: offer a whole lot of new or yet to be released tracks, or be good to listen to as a full album. This does neither.
Upon first listen, I checked the liner notes and realized that many of the songs featured here aren’t even Clapton’s best recording of the particular song. Now, I realize that this is a “best of” Clapton album, not a best of Derek and the Dominoes, but I don’t think it’s necessary to once again subject the world to the Unplugged version of “Layla.” Other examples of this are “Bad Love” (it was phenomenal on 24 Nights) and “Before You Accuse Me” (it worked really, really well on Unplugged) .
As far as song selection, this album works like any other mediocre greatest hits comp. It makes you skip around and find your favorites, and is at times difficult to listen to straight through. At one point, “Before You Accuse Me,” a simple, Texas-style blues is immediately followed by “It’s In the Way You Use It,” which sounds like it should be at the end of some Tom Cruise flick from the ‘80s. The two songs are a complete mismatch.
So, Clapton fans, if you think you can’t live without this album, give this a try: hold off on buying it for a few weeks, then go back to your favorite store and look at the track list. I think you’ll realize that you can live without it.