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Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | Polydor Records

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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
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R&B - Released June 13, 2000 | Reprise

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Rock - Released November 1, 1983 | Reprise

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Rock - Released August 29, 2005 | Reprise

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Eric Clapton claimed in the press release for Back Home, his 14th album of original material, that "One of the earliest statements I made about myself was back in the late '80s, with Journeyman. This album completes that cycle in terms of talking about my whole journey as an itinerant musician and where I find myself now, starting a new family. That's why I chose the title. It's about coming home and staying home." With that in mind, it becomes clearer that the studio albums Clapton released during the '90s did indeed follow some sort of thematic logic. 1989's Journeyman did find Clapton regrouping after a muddled '80s, returning to the bluesy arena rock and smooth pop that had been his signature sound as a solo artist. He followed that with 1994's From the Cradle, where he explicitly returned to the roots of his music by recording an album of blues standards. Four years later, he released Pilgrim, a slick album that had Clapton strengthening his collaboration with producer/co-writer Simon Climie (who first worked with EC on his electronica side project T.D.F.). If Pilgrim touched on father issues, 2001's Reptile loosely returned Clapton to his childhood (complete with a smiling boyhood shot of him on the cover) and found the guitarist struggling with a seemingly diverse selection of material, ranking from '50s R&B to James Taylor. After a brief blues detour on 2004's Me and Mr. Johnson, Clapton returns to the sound and feel of Reptile for Back Home, but he doesn't seem to be as tentative or forced as he did there. Instead, he eases comfortably into the domesticity that isn't just the concept for the album, it's reason for being. In fact, the album doesn't need "back" in its title -- ultimately, the album is just about being home (which, if the center photo of Clapton at home with his three young daughters and wife is to be believed, looks alarmingly similar to the set of Thomas the Tank Engine, complete with a painted rainbow shining through the window). While it's hard to begrudge the 60-year-old guitarist for finding a happy home after all these years, what is puzzling about this calm, comfortable album is that Clapton is equating domestic bliss with a glossy, consciously classy sound that's swept clean of dirt and grit, or even the blues. Consequently, Back Home is pitched halfway between the lite contemporary soul of Pilgrim and Clapton's time as a Michelob spokesman in the late '80s. Each track rides a tight, professional groove -- sometimes a bluesy vamp, sometimes a reggae jam, usually something soulful but relaxed -- and while instruments sometimes bubble up from the mix (sometimes it's Clapton's guitar, but just as often it's Billy Preston's organ, or occasionally a synth straight out of 1987), the emphasis is always on the smooth, shiny surface. Unlike such peers as Bob Dylan, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones who revitalized their recording careers with back-to-basics moves that stripped their music down to its essence, Clapton seems to harbor an aversion to what he built his reputation on, whether it was the lean, sinewy blues of the Yardbirds and Bluesbreakers or the psychedelic freak-outs of Cream, or even the rootsy rock he learned from Delaney & Bonnie in the '70s. Based on Back Home, it really does seem like he considers Journeyman ground zero for his solo career, but instead of replicating the well-balanced mix of rock, pop, and blues that made that record one of his best solo efforts, he settles into a tasteful adult pop sound that makes this record the ideal soundtrack to a pleasant Sunday afternoon at home with the family. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1974 | Polydor Records

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461 Ocean Boulevard is Eric Clapton's second studio solo album, arriving after his side project of Derek and the Dominos and a long struggle with heroin addiction. Although there are some new reggae influences, the album doesn't sound all that different from the rock, pop, blues, country, and R&B amalgam of Eric Clapton. However, 461 Ocean Boulevard is a tighter, more focused outing that enables Clapton to stretch out instrumentally. Furthermore, the pop concessions on the album -- the sleek production, the concise running times -- don't detract from the rootsy origins of the material, whether it's Johnny Otis' "Willie and the Hand Jive," the traditional blues "Motherless Children," Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff," or Clapton's emotional original "Let It Grow." With its relaxed, friendly atmosphere and strong bluesy roots, 461 Ocean Boulevard set the template for Clapton's '70s albums. Though he tried hard to make an album exactly like it, he never quite managed to replicate its charms. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released October 11, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released January 1, 1977 | Polydor Records

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Rock - Released October 11, 2013 | Rhino - Warner Bros.

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Rock - Released January 1, 1980 | Polydor Records

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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 January 1, 1996 | Polydor Records

A four-disc box set spanning Eric Clapton's entire career -- running from the Yardbirds to his '80s solo recordings -- Crossroads not only revitalized Clapton's commercial standing, but it established the rock & roll multi-disc box set retrospective as a commercially viable proposition. Bob Dylan's Biograph was successful two years before the release of Crossroads, but Clapton's set was a bona fide blockbuster. And it's easy to see why. Crossroads manages to sum up Clapton's career succinctly and thoroughly, touching upon all of his hits and adding a bevy of first-rate unreleased material (most notably selections from the scrapped second Derek and the Dominos album). Although not all of his greatest performances are included on the set -- none of his work as a session musician or guest artist is included, for instance -- every truly essential item he recorded is present on these four discs. No other Clapton album accurately explains why the guitarist was so influential, or demonstrates exactly what he accomplished. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released September 24, 2010 | Reprise

Clapton is Eric Clapton’s first solo album in five years, but he hardly spent the back half of the 2000s in seclusion. After 2005’s Back Home, he went on a journey through the past, writing a 2007 autobiography -- also titled Clapton, although that’s the only connection they shared -- mending fences with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker for a brief Cream reunion, establishing a lasting connection with his old Blind Faith bandmate Steve Winwood, and recording a duet album with his ‘70s inspiration JJ Cale. This embrace of history isn’t directly heard on Clapton but it’s certainly felt, extending to how EC relies on old tunes -- blues and country, but also pop and R&B -- for the bulk of this 14-track album. EC is no stranger to covers and the sound of the album is familiar, but there’s no record quite like Clapton in his catalog. The closest may be Unplugged, which also ambles along with an unhurried shuffle, but this boasts a greater musical range, mixing up Fats Waller and Robert Wilkins with Hoagy Carmichael and Irving Berlin, finding room for guests appearances by Winwood, Allen Toussaint, Wynton Marsalis, Sheryl Crow, Derek Trucks and selected members from Preservation Hall Jazz Band. Yes, it is eclectic, even dipping into a bit of a soulful soft-rock groove on “Everything Will Be Alright,” but not self-consciously so. Clapton flows easily, the blues never hitting too hard, the New Orleans jazz never getting too woozy, the standards never too sleepy, the sounds subtly shifting but changing all the same. It’s leisurely in its performance and its length, perhaps running just a little too long, but it’s hard to complain because the slow ramble is so enjoyable. Eric Clapton has never sounded so relaxed on record, either as a singer -- he is supple and casually authoritative, a far cry from the tentative lead vocalist of his earliest solo records -- or a bandleader, sounding at peace with his past yet harboring no desire to recycle it, even if he’s reaching back far beyond the blues that initially sparked his interest in music. He’s simply laying back and enjoying what he’s playing, winding up with one of his simplest and best records. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released April 28, 2015 | Reprise

As the first compilation covering Eric Clapton's Reprise/Warner work since 2007's Complete Clapton, 2015's Forever Man is the third collection to focus specifically on these recordings from the '80s, '90s, and 2000s, and it's by far the most extensive, weighing in at two CDs in its basic edition and three in its deluxe. The difference between the two is the addition of a disc of "Blues," a nice addition to the "Studio" and "Live" discs of the collection. These themes make sense on paper but they're a little odd in practice, with the Studio selections hopscotching between eras and the live heavy on new millennial selections. Often, the length highlights how light Forever Man is on hits: "Tears in Heaven," "I've Got a Rock N Roll Heart," "Forever Man," "Change the World," "My Father's Eyes," "Pretending," "Bad Love," "It's in the Way That You Use It," and the unplugged "Layla" are all here, but the sequencing suggests how the '70s hits are missing (or present in new live versions). It is hardly a botched collection -- in pure consumer terms, this delivers a lot of bang for the buck -- but it winds up asking more questions than it answers. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Blues - Released January 1, 2012 | Universal Music Group International

After the guest-star-drenched No Reason to Cry failed to make much of an impact commercially, Eric Clapton returned to using his own band for Slowhand. The difference is substantial -- where No Reason to Cry struggled hard to find the right tone, Slowhand opens with the relaxed, bluesy shuffle of J.J. Cale's "Cocaine" and sustains it throughout the course of the album. Alternating between straight blues ("Mean Old Frisco"), country ("Lay Down Sally"), mainstream rock ("Cocaine," "The Core"), and pop ("Wonderful Tonight"), Slowhand doesn't sound schizophrenic because of the band's grasp of the material. This is laid-back virtuosity -- although Clapton and his band are never flashy, their playing is masterful and assured. That assurance and the album's eclectic material make Slowhand rank with 461 Ocean Boulevard as Eric Clapton's best albums. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released November 6, 1989 | Rhino

For most of the '80s, Eric Clapton seemed rather lost, uncertain of whether he should return to his blues roots or pander to AOR radio. By the mid-'80s, he appeared to have made the decision to revamp himself as a glossy mainstream rocker, working with synthesizers and drum machines. Instead of expanding his audience, it only reduced it. Then came the career retrospective Crossroads, which helped revitalize his career, not only commercially, but also creatively, as Journeyman -- the first album he recorded after the success of Crossroads -- proved. Although Journeyman still suffers from an overly slick production, Clapton sounds more convincing than he has since the early '70s. Not only is his guitar playing muscular and forceful, his singing is soulful and gritty. Furthermore, the songwriting is consistently strong, alternating between fine mainstream rock originals ("Pretending") and covers ("Before You Accuse Me," "Hound Dog"). Like any of Clapton's best albums, there is no grandstanding to be found on Journeyman -- it's simply a laid-back and thoroughly engaging display of Clapton's virtuosity. On the whole, it's the best studio album he's released since Slowhand. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rock - Released January 1, 1970 | Polydor Records

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Right after he finished a tour with the Delaney & Bonnie couple, Clapton ended the collaboration because of a fight with them. Nevertheless, his creativity had not left him so he decided to go through a solo adventure and made a perfect start as a leader. Eric Clapton was released in 1970 after recording sessions in Los Angeles and London. Pop oriented, this album is still influenced by gospel and r’n’b which produces a diverse musical experience. Brownie, Clapton’s first Stratocaster is the main guitar used on the record, even though the guitarist is able to take care of some other on acoustic track (Easy Now). The legend is on its way. © AR/Qobuz
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Rock - Released January 1, 1975 | Polydor Records

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Right after he came out of detox due to his problems related to drugs and alcohol, the one who will become know as God published a live album. E.C. Was Here is made of recordings from the guitar player’s 1974 tour (Long Beach Arena, Hammersmith Odeon, Providence Civic Center…). After a first album recorded with Brownie, Clapton decided to come on stage with his Gibson for a fuller, more powerful sound. Focusing on a blues repertory, E.C. Was Here is fantastic: on his playground, Slowhand impresses and leads the discussions with George Terry. A cover of Ramblin’ On My Mind (Robert Johnson), an acoustic Driftin’ Blues, a long moaning on Have You Ever Loved A Woman… The content is linked together at lightning speed and when album ends, the first desire is to start it again. © AR/Qobuz
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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
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Rock - Released January 1, 2014 | Polydor Records

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