Music

Eric Clapton: Complete Clapton

The problem isn't with Eric Clapton's musical ability, it's with the sham of a title of this current collection.


Eric Clapton

Complete Clapton

Label: Reprise
US Release Date: 2007-10-09
UK Release Date: 2007-10-09
Amazon
iTunes

Let's start off by saying the "7" ranking you will see at the bottom of this review is based on Clapton's abilities as a guitarist and to put together memorable music. If I was allowed to assign a ranking based on the package itself, this would be about a "2" or "3" at best. Why? (Glad you asked.)

The irksome point in all this is the word Complete in the title. This is about as complete as Beethoven's Unfinished Symphony. If memory serves, didn't Clapton play in a little-known band called the Yardbirds? Wasn't he also a one-time member of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers? And perchance, didn't he do some work with Delaney & Bonnie? I know, minor details. Why let facts get in the way of a good compilation?

The reason for said hits package to make its appearance is that it bookends (no pun intended) with Clapton's autobiography. Really, only the curious need apply to purchase the CD with the book. Those who have either of the previous Clapton retrospectives (the single disc The Cream of Clapton, or the absolutely awesome four-disc set Crossroads) have no need for this new grouping, Complete Clapton, unless you need to add some of his middle of the road hits to your collection.

Clapton still earns high marks as a guitarist of legend. And the best way to hear this collection to hear just how great an axe man he is, is simple, listen to each song twice. The first time, you hear how the song comes together, the melody, the obligatory solo, etc. But the second time around, just try to focus on the guitar(s). This is where you hear Clapton's genius. He is so nuanced a guitarist, he can use one note, one short run, or one off-the-cuff riff to change a song's dynamic.

Take for an example, "I Can't Stand It". Listen to the song, and you think it seems so simple, yet as the song moves on, Clapton does more tweaks and mini-runs with his guitar to give the song a bit more body and fullness. But on this example, and several other of his solo works, the frustration is that, except for his solos, his guitar seems to be buried low in the mix.

The collection, song wise, is basically a "Clapton For Dummies" collection. It runs chronologically, and starts with five Cream songs. You can probably guess at four of them and be correct; the two mega-hits ("Sunshine of Your Love", "White Room"), the "recognized" guitar masterpiece ("Crossroads"), and the best non-hit album cut they ever did ("Badge"). The fifth chosen one is the first song off their very first album, Fresh Cream ("I Feel Free"). And then name any other Clapton song that was a staple on FM-radio, and it's likely to be on here, from rockers like "Layla" (both electric AND acoustic) to "Cocaine" to "After Midnight" (sadly, only the fast version; the slow one is on Crossroads) to the ballads, such as "Wonderful Tonight", "Tears In Heaven", and "My Father's Eyes".

This grouping touches on some of the later stuff too. Some of the welcome inclusions are "Motherless Child" (from the underrated all-blues album From the Cradle), "She's Waiting" (still love the fife and drum ending, though it runs a tad too long), "Sweet Home Chicago" and "If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day" (both from the Robert Johnson cover album), and one each with duets with B.B. King and J.J. Cale ("Riding with the King" and "Ride the River", respectively).

For all of the above, plus the songs that are on here that weren't mentioned, if you do the "twice-listen" test, you will certainly hear why Eric Clapton has been labeled as "God" (the fans), or as "Slowhand" (Clapton's preferred nickname). His passion about his work is unquestioned; his talent on a six-string is in rarified air, and people of all musical tastes, from rock to mellow, love something of his.

So in essence, if you want a batch of hits in a nice, neat, tidy two-disc package, then again, you certainly can't go wrong with Complete Clapton. That's why musically, this ranks a solid "7". Otherwise, there's no new ground here. It’s certainly not even in the same ballpark as "complete". This is strictly a marketing ploy to go hand-in-hand with his biography, and it will sell to a new generation of baby boomers who didn't want to invest in a four-disc box set, and who would rather hear "Tears In Heaven" than "For Your Love" or "Strange Brew". In fact, dare I suggest you purchase Crossroads instead, then just download the few songs from Complete Clapton that don't appear on there? I do.

7


Music


Books


Film


Television


Recent
Music

Raashan Ahmad Talks With PopMatters About His Place in 'The Sun'

On his latest work,The Sun, rapper Raashan Ahmad brings his irrepressible charisma to this set of Afrobeat-influenced hip-hop.

Music

Between the Buried and Me's Baby Pictures Star in 'The Silent Circus'

The Silent Circus shows Between the Buried and Me developing towards the progressive metal titans they would eventually become.

Music

Alanis Morissette's 'Such Pretty Forks in the Road' Is a Quest for Validation

Alanis Morissette's Such Pretty Forks in the Road is an exposition of dolorous truths, revelatory in its unmasking of imperfection.

Music

Vistas' 'Everything Changes in the End' Is Catchy and Fun Guitar Rock

Vistas' debut, Everything Changes in the End, features bright rock music that pulls influences from power-pop and indie rock.

Film

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Music

The 10 Best Experimental Albums of 2015

Music of all kinds are tending toward a consciously experimental direction. Maybe we’re finally getting through to them.

Books

John Lewis, C.T. Vivian, and Their Fellow Freedom Riders Are Celebrated in 'Breach of Peace'

John Lewis and C.T. Vivian were titans of the Civil Rights struggle, but they are far from alone in fighting for change. Eric Etheridge's masterful then-and-now project, Breach of Peace, tells the stories of many of the Freedom Riders.

Music

Unwed Sailor's Johnathon Ford Discusses Their New Album and 20 Years of Music

Johnathon Ford has overseen Unwed Sailor for more than 20 years. The veteran musician shows no sign of letting up with the latest opus, Look Alive.

Jedd Beaudoin
Music

Jazz Trombonist Nick Finzer Creates a 'Cast of Characters'

Jazz trombonist Nick Finzer shines with his compositions on this mainstream jazz sextet release, Cast of Characters.

Music

Datura4 Travel Blues-Rock Roads on 'West Coast Highway Cosmic'

Australian rockers Datura4 take inspiration from the never-ending coastal landscape of their home country to deliver a well-grounded album between blues, hard rock, and psychedelia.

Books

Murder Is Most Factorial in 'Eighth Detective'

Mathematician Alex Pavesi's debut novel, The Eighth Detective, posits mathematical rules defining 'detective fiction'.

Music

Eyedress Sets Emotions Against Shoegaze Backdrops on 'Let's Skip to the Wedding'

Eyedress' Let's Skip to the Wedding is a jaggedly dreamy assemblage of sounds that's both temporally compact and imaginatively expansive, all wrapped in vintage shoegaze ephemera.

Film

Of Purges and Prescience: On David France's LGBTQ Documentary, 'Welcome to Chechnya'

The ongoing persecution of LGBTQ individuals in Chechnya, or anywhere in the world, should come as no surprise, or "amazement". It's a motif undergirding the history of civil society that certain people will always be identified for extermination.

Television

Padma Lakshmi's 'Taste the Nation' Questions What, Exactly, Is American Food

Can food alone undo centuries of anti-immigrant policies that are ingrained in the fabric of the American nation? Padma Lakshmi's Taste the Nation certainly tries.

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Music

The Greyboy Allstars Rise Up to Help America Come Together with 'Como De Allstars'

If America could come together as one nation under a groove, Karl Denson & the Greyboy Allstars would be leading candidates of musical unity with their funky new album, Como De Allstars.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.