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R&B - Released June 13, 2000 | Reprise

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Rock - Released October 12, 1999 | Reprise

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Clapton Chronicles ignores Eric Clapton's 1983 Reprise debut, Money and Cigarettes (which sounded more like an RSO album, anyway), starting with the pair of Phil Collins-produced mid-'80s albums, Behind the Sun and August. Though these had a pop sheen, they were album rock holdovers. Clapton didn't get the balance between hard rock and commercial gloss right until 1989's Journeyman, whose featured songs -- "Before You Accuse Me," "Bad Love," and "Pretending" -- form the heart of this compilation. Journeyman was overshadowed by the phenomenal success of "Tears in Heaven" and 1992's Unplugged. Not only did Unplugged go platinum ten times, it established a new public image -- classy, stylish, and substantial. That's the image that prevails on Clapton Chronicles. His triple-platinum blues album From the Cradle is written out of the picture, with songs from movie soundtracks taking its place. Apart from the Babyface-produced "Change the World," these tunes are a little too self-conscious and subdued, as are selections from 1998's Pilgrim. However, this deliberate move to paint Clapton's '80s and '90s recordings as adult contemporary fare is accurate. Clapton's musical journey from 1985 to 1999 was taken mostly in the middle of the road, and Clapton Chronicles certainly captures that journey, missing no major hits from the late '80s and '90s. Whether it's a necessary addition to a Clapton collection is a matter of taste. It's certainly an excellent compliment to Unplugged and Time Pieces, his two most popular and pop-oriented albums, but that might not be what every fan wants. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 1, 1983 | Reprise

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Rock - Released August 29, 2005 | Reprise

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Blues - Released June 26, 2020 | Reprise

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The potential for a collaboration between B.B. King and Eric Clapton is enormous, of course, and the real questions concern how it is organized and executed. This first recorded pairing between the 74-year-old King and the 55-year-old Clapton was put together in the most obvious way: Clapton arranged the session using many of his regular musicians, picked the songs, and co-produced with his partner Simon Climie. That ought to mean that King would be a virtual guest star rather than earning a co-billing, but because of Clapton's respect for his elder, it nearly works the other way around. The set list includes lots of King specialties -- "Ten Long Years," "Three O'Clock Blues," "Days of Old," "When My Heart Beats Like a Hammer" -- as well as standards like "Hold on I'm Coming" and "Come Rain or Come Shine," with some specially written and appropriate recent material thrown in, so King has reason to be comfortable without being complacent. The real danger is that Clapton will defer too much; though he can be inspired by a competing guitarist such as Duane Allman, he has sometimes tended to lean too heavily on accompanists such as Albert Lee and Mark Knopfler when working with them in concert. That danger is partially realized; as its title indicates, Riding With the King is more about King than it is about Clapton. But the two players turn out to have sufficiently complementary, if distinct, styles so that Clapton's supportive role fills out and surrounds King's stinging single-string playing. (It's also worth noting that there are usually another two or three guitarists on each track.) The result is an effective, if never really stunning, work. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 30, 2016 | Reprise

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God has never hidden his admiration for J.J. Cale, and this is why Eric Clapton decided to invite his idol on stage during his 2007 world tour. They played five of sixteen songs together, including (of course) Cocaine and Clapton’s own cover of After Midnight. This was after the two artists had worked together on the album The Road To Escondido (2006). The concert took place at the Valley Center in the San Diego area. And the local star wasn’t the only one to give his fingers a workout, as Derek Trucks from The Allman Brothers Band and Robert Cray also support Slow Hand on some of the tracks. Clapton himself declared that his ultimate ambition was to share the stage with the Californian guitarist. So when the latter passed away in 2013, the British virtuoso wanted to pay him one last tribute at Live in San Diego. © AR/Qobuz
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Rock - Released April 28, 2015 | Reprise

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Rock - Released May 15, 2009 | Reprise

Eric Clapton's new millennium has largely been defined by collaborations with friends, beginning with a duet album with B.B. King following through with a Cream reunion and closing with tours with his former Blind Faith running mate, Steve Winwood. Clapton and Winwood did three concerts together at Madison Square Garden in February 2008 and the results were fruitful enough to spawn this double-disc album -- along with its accompanying DVD set -- and a moderately scaled 2009 tour. Live from Madison Square Garden culls 21 highlights from those three nights and spreads them over two discs, sequencing the songs so Traffic numbers alternate with selections from Blind Faith, Derek & the Dominos, blues standards, a handful of Clapton's hits, and a heavy dose of Hendrix, who has no less than three songs here. That extended salute to Jimi is a good indication of the vibe here -- this is a genuine shared co-billing with Clapton and Winwood trading vocals and solos almost equally. There's not much ego here and not much hunger, either, with the two stars sliding into a relaxed groove that yields plenty of rewards. There's a comfortable touch to their playing that's greatly appealing, and the straightforward setting places the spotlight directly on their interplay. Clapton and Winwood might roll easy but they can still create some sparks, sometimes in unexpected places, such as the somewhat forgotten '80s hits "Forever Man" and "Split Decision," both which are highlights here. Ultimately, this isn't an album of moments, but rather a sustained whole that finds Clapton and Winwood egging each other on to produce a wholly satisfying, if not quite surprising, reunion. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released November 5, 2002 | Reprise

The cover of Eric Clapton's 2002 live album One More Car, One More Rider -- no less than the sixth live album in his solo career -- suggests the problems in the record. It's designed to look a classic blues album sleeve or poster, but it's self-conscious and affected, the work of somebody that knows the form but not the substance of the blues. Certainly that accusation can't be reasonably leveled at Clapton who, after all, has proved throughout his career that he knows the substance of the blues, but ever since his canonization to the MOR mainstream with 1992's Unplugged, there's a sinking feeling that EC dabbles in the blues instead of lives there. Sure, he had a fierce testimonial to his favorite music with From the Cradle, but One More Car, One More Rider arrives nearly a decade later, and the difference is stunning. Though he goes through the motions of playing the blues -- a cutting version of the perennial "Key to the Highway," "Hoochie Coochie Man," "Goin' Down Slow," among others here -- the heart of this album is closer to the NPR instrumental jam of "Reptile" than blues. This is mannered, "classy" playing which sounds perfectly fine but is never interesting, particularly since the song selection favors either warhorses or recent hits. In short, it's a record for those that like the idea of Clapton more than his music. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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R&B - Released June 13, 2000 | Reprise

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Pop - Released March 9, 1998 | Reprise

One strange thing about Eric Clapton's '90s success is that it relied almost entirely on covers and new versions of classic hits; he released no albums of new material between 1989's Journeyman and 1998's Pilgrim. In the decade between the two albums, he had two new hits -- his moving elegy to his deceased son, "Tears in Heaven," and the slick contemporary soul of the Babyface-written "Change the World" -- and Pilgrim tries to reach a middle ground between these two extremes, balancing tortured lyrics with smooth sonic surfaces. Working with producer Simon Climie, his collaborator on the TDF side project, Clapton has created a numbingly calm record that, for all of its lyrical torment, displays no emotion whatsoever. Much of the problem lies in the production, which relies entirely on stiff mechanical drumbeats, gauzy synthesizers, and meandering instrumental interludes. These ingredients could result in a good record, as "Change the World" demonstrated, but not here, due to Pilgrim's monotonous production. Unfortunately, Clapton doesn't want to shake things up -- his singing is startlingly mannered, even on emotionally turbulent numbers like "My Father's Eyes" or "Circus." Even worse, he's content to take a back seat instrumentally, playing slight solos and fills as colorless as the electronic backdrops. The deadened sonics would make Pilgrim a chore even if there were strong songs on the record, but only a handful of tunes break through the murk. Considering that Journeyman, his last album of original material, was a fine workmanlike effort and that From the Cradle and Unplugged crackled with vitality, the blandness of Pilgrim is all the more disappointing. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 24, 2010 | Reprise

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Pop - Released January 1, 1986 | Reprise

Eric Clapton adopted a new, tougher, hard R&B approach on August, employing a stripped-down band featuring keyboard player Greg Phillinganes, bassist Nathan East, and drummer/producer Phil Collins, plus, on several tracks, a horn section and, on a couple of tracks, backup vocals by Tina Turner, and performing songs written by old Motown hand Lamont Dozier, among others. The excellent, but incongruous, leadoff track, however, was "It's in the Way That You Use It," which Clapton and Robbie Robertson had written for Robertson's score to the film The Color of Money. Elsewhere, Clapton sang and played fiercely on songs like "Tearing Us Apart," "Run," and "Miss You," all of which earned AOR radio play. That radio support may have helped the album to achieve gold status in less than six months, Clapton's best commercial showing since 1981's Another Ticket, despite the album's failure to generate a hit single. The title commemorates the birth in August 1986 of Clapton's son Conor. [The CD version of the album contains the bonus track "Grand Illusion."] © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Blues - Released March 23, 2003 | Reprise

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Rock - Released March 6, 2001 | Reprise

For a musician known to strive for authenticity, Eric Clapton has always been curiously obsessed with appearances, seemingly as interested in sartorial details and hairstyles as in the perfect guitar lick. It's hard to find two photographs of him from the 1960s and early '70s that appear to be the same person, and even after he formally launched his solo career he switched looks frequently. Thus, the album sleeve of his 13th solo studio album of new material, Reptile, its "concept" credited to the recording artist, seems significant. The album cover shows a smiling Clapton as a child, and there are family photographs on the back cover and in the booklet, along with a current photograph of the artist, who turned 56 in the weeks following the album's release, in an image that does nothing to hide the wrinkles of late middle age. This photograph faces a sleeve note by Clapton that begins with his explanation of the album title: "Where I come from, the word 'reptile' is a term of endearment, used in much the same way as 'toe rag' or 'moosh.'" (Thanks, Eric. Now, all listeners have to do is find out what "toe rag" and "moosh" mean!) The note then goes on to dedicate the album warmly to Clapton's uncle. All of this might lead you to expect an unusually personal recording from a man who has always spoken most eloquently with his guitar. If so, you'd be disappointed. Reptile seems conceived as an album to address all the disparate audiences Clapton has assembled over the years. His core audience may think of him as the premier blues guitarist of his generation, but especially as a solo artist, he has also sought a broader pop identity, and in the 1990s, with the hits "Tears in Heaven" and "Change the World," he achieved it. The fans he earned then will recognize the largely acoustic sound of such songs as "Believe in Life," "Second Nature," and "Modern Girl." But those who think of Clapton as the guy who plays "Cocaine" will be pleased with his cover of another J.J. Cale song, "Travelin' Light," and by the time the album was in record stores mainstream rock radio had already found "Superman Inside," which sounds like many of his mid-tempo rock hits of the '80s. This diversity is continued on less familiar material, especially the many interesting cover songs. Somebody, perhaps the artist himself, has been busy looking for old chestnuts, since Reptile contains a wide variety of them: the 1930 jazz song "I Want a Little Girl," recorded by McKinney's Cotton Pickers among others; John Greer's 1952 R&B hit "Got You on My Mind"; Ray Charles' 1955 R&B hit "Come Back Baby"; James Taylor's 1972 hit "Don't Let Me Be Lonely Tonight"; and Stevie Wonder's 1980 hit "I Ain't Gonna Stand for It." The two earliest of these songs are old and obscure enough that Clapton is able to make them his own, and he recasts the Taylor song enough to re-invent it, but remaking songs by Charles and Wonder means competing with them vocally, and as a singer Clapton isn't up to the challenge. He is assisted by the current five-man version of the Impressions, who do much to shore up his vocal weaknesses, but he still isn't a disciplined or thoughtful singer. Of course, when that distinctive electric guitar sound kicks in, all is forgiven. Still, Reptile looks like an album that started out to be more ambitious than it ended up being. There may be a song here for each of the artist's constituencies (and, more important to its commercial impact, for every major radio format except talk and country), but as a whole the album doesn't add up to the statement Clapton seems to have been hoping to make. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Rock - Released September 6, 1994 | Reprise

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Pop - Released October 8, 1991 | Reprise

Eric Clapton, who had not released a live album since 1980, had several good reasons to release one in the early '90s. For one thing, his spare backup band of keyboardist Greg Phillinganes, bassist Nathan East, and drummer Steve Ferrone was his best live unit ever, and its powerful live versions of Cream classics like "White Room" and "Sunshine of Your Love" deserved to be documented. For another, since 1987 Clapton had been playing an annual series of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London, putting together various special shows (blues nights, orchestral nights, etc.). 24 Nights, a double album, was culled from two years of such shows, 1990 and 1991, and it demonstrated the breadth of Clapton's work, from his hot regular band to assemblages of bluesmen like Buddy Guy and Robert Cray to examples of his soundtrack work with an orchestra led by Michael Kamen. The result was an album that came across as a lavishly constructed retrospective and a testament to Clapton's musical stature. But it made little impact upon release (though it quickly went gold), perhaps because events overcame it -- three months later, Clapton's elegy for his baby son, "Tears in Heaven," was all over the radio, and a few months after that he was redefining himself on MTV Unplugged -- a live show as austere as 24 Nights was grand. Still, it would be hard to find a more thorough demonstration of Clapton's abilities than the one presented here. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 10, 1992 | Reprise

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Rock - Released April 28, 2015 | Reprise

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Pop - Released February 5, 1985 | Reprise

Although he is universally considered among the most important figures in rock & roll, Eric Clapton has not had consistent success in translating his stature into record sales, partially because he is, in essence, a great blues guitarist rather than a great pop/rock singer/songwriter. Clapton's career was in decline in the early '80s when he switched record labels from Polydor to Warner Bros., and his debut Warner album, Money and Cigarettes, became his first to fall below gold record status in more than six years. As a result, Warner looked critically at his follow-up, the Phil Collins-produced Behind the Sun, in the fall of 1984 and rejected the first version submitted, insisting that he record several new songs written by Jerry Williams, backed by Los Angeles session players under the auspices of company producers Lenny Waronker and Ted Templeman. Warner then emphasized the new tracks, releasing two of them, "Forever Man" (which reached the Top 40) and "See What Love Can Do," as singles. The resulting album, not surprisingly, was somewhat schizophrenic. It was hard to believe that Warner could have heard the leadoff track, "She's Waiting," and not realized its potential to be a hit single, though the company may have been correct in thinking that the album as a whole was competent without being very exciting. The added tracks were not bad (and, in fact, Clapton later would add session players Nathan East and Greg Phillinganes to his band), but they were not the sure-fire hits they were supposed to be. As usual, there was some effective guitar soloing (notably on "Same Old Blues"), but despite the tinkering, Behind the Sun was not among Clapton's best -- although it went gold after nearly two years in release. © William Ruhlmann /TiVo

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Eric Clapton in the magazine
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