Tag Archives: Eric Clapton

2020 at End: I Tried to Be Positive. Honest

As this is my last entry for 2020, I had planned to make it somewhat more, well, positive than many of the things I’ve written of late. Seems that for the past several months I’ve been writing about the consequences of COVID-19 on our music and our lives, and very little of that has had a proverbial silver lining. Then in the months before that it appeared that I had become the official Glorious Noise obituary writer, a dubious distinction at most.

But then I learned that Leslie West had died. I will confess that I am not a fan of Mountain, that I never found “Mississippi Queen” to be particularly engaging. It sounds to me like a variant on something that Lynyrd Skynyrd might have done. Or perhaps Def Leppard. Whereas the former are from Jacksonville, Florida, and the latter from Sheffield, England, West was born in New York City and was raised in Hackensack, New Jersey. Go figure.

The little interest that I had in Mountain was a result of the participation of Felix Pappalardi, whose name was familiar to me from his production work on Cream’s Disraeli Gears, as I was—and continue to be, albeit with a different fervor—a big fan of Cream. So if Pappalardi worked with West, it had to be worthwhile. But that didn’t really work in my estimation, even though I was arguably predisposed to like the band.

Of the members of Cream it was—and continues to be—Jack Bruce for me. He was one of the most innovative and accomplished bass players of the 20th century, and if you do an eye roll and think of “Sunshine of Your Love,” I suggest you give a listen to “You Burned the Tables on Me” from his third solo album, Harmony Row, or the work that he did with Kip Hanrahan. Then your eyes may open wide.

One of Mountain’s minor hits (or I guess for it the adjective can be removed) is “Theme for an Imaginary Western,” a cover of a song written by Jack Bruce and Pete Brown, which originally appears on Songs for a Tailor, Bruce’s first post-Cream solo album—produced by Pappalardi.

Pappalardi left Mountain and was replaced on bass and vocals by. . .Jack Bruce. Or at least a newly named band was created in 1972, West, Bruce and Laing. (Corky Laing played drums in Mountain, so the band wasn’t too far away from the original.)

In my estimation this was one of the bad choices that Bruce had made in his career, but presumably he was looking for a revenue stream. What is odd is if you listen to the solo album that Jack Bruce released after leaving West, Bruce and Laing, Out of the Storm, you’ll undoubtedly conclude that Bruce’s talent was wasted playing with West. (When Bruce went out on tour in support of that solo album, he enlisted Mick Taylor to play guitar: that is more of a balance of talent.)

Bruce formed the Jack Bruce Band and Jack Bruce & Friends during the 70s and 80s, but ended up collaborating with Robin Trower on two albums, B.L.T. (presumably that would be for Bruce, Bill Lordan (drums) and Trower; it is interesting to note that on the cover of the album, the font size for Trower’s name is significantly bigger than the other two) and Truce (in this case, Lordan was gone and just Bruce’s and Trower’s names appear on the sleeve, in the same font size). As for these two records, even though Trower, a remarkably capable guitar player, is a good foil for Bruce, they strike me as being somewhat mediocre.

Bruce became something of an itinerate musician, playing with all manner of musicians, some good, some questionable. He died of liver disease in 2014.

Pappalardi? He died of a gunshot wound in 1983. His wife was convicted of negligent homicide.

Of the two more famous musicians that he played with: Ginger Baker died in 2019 (Bruce and Baker collaborated in a band with guitar player Gary Moore—BBM—which released an album, Around the Next Dream, which for some odd reason features a picture of Baker smoking a cigarette (naturally) and wearing angel’s wings: Clapton is god but Baker is a seraph?); Clapton is still with us.

Which brings me to the positive subject that I’d planned to write about, the Save Our Stages Act, which is a $15-billion part of the coronavirus relief package passed by Congress. One of the main sponsors of the bipartisan bill is Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota—she worked with Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a stalwart Republican and evident music fan. On December 21 she took to the Senate floor and stated, “And this was about — yes, Nashville and New York, but it was just as much about the Fargo Theatre or a small small country music venue in Texas. And while we see the light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccines, we know that it will be quite a while before these businesses which operate on such thin margins as it is can keep going.”

Continue reading 2020 at End: I Tried to Be Positive. Honest

50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 10

Rolling Stone issue #10 had a cover date of May 11, 1968. 24 pages. 35 cents. Cover photo by Linda Eastman.

This is the issue that proved beyond any doubt that Rolling Stone was having a clear impact on the rock and roll scene it was covering. This is the issue where Jann Wenner proved he wasn’t afraid to bite the hand that feeds him. This is the issue that made Eric Clapton faint.

Clapton was on the cover and it featured the Rolling Stone Interview with Eric Clapton as well as a full-page ad for Disraeli Gears and Fresh Cream. But there was also a live review of a recent Cream show in Boston written by Jon Landau.

Cream has been called a jazz group. They are not. They are a blues band and rock band. Clapton is a master of the blues cliches of all of the post-World War II blues guitarists, particularly B.B. King and Albert King. And he didn’t play a note that wasn’t blues during the course of the concert. […] Yet melodically, the improvisation was indistinguishable from the one that took place on their next number, “N.S.U.,” and rhythmically they never did anything more advanced than a 4/4. By abandoning the chord progression of the song they started out with and improvising solely around the root chord, (which, by the way, is a far cry from having abandoned a chord structure, which Clapton says he is prone to do) they insure the incompatibility of the solo compared with the song. And ultimately what I wound up hearing was three virtuosos romping through their bag, occasionally building it into something, occasionally missing the mark altogether, but always in a one-dimensional style that made no use of dynamics, structure, or any of the other elements of rock besides drum licks and guitar riffs.

Ouch! Years later, Clapton admitted how this review affected him: “All during Cream I was riding high on the ‘Clapton Is God’ myth that had been started up. I was flying high on an ego trip; I was pretty sure I was the best thing happening that was popular. Then we got our first kind of bad review, which, funnily enough, was in Rolling Stone. The magazine ran an interview with us in which we were really praising ourselves, and it was followed by a review that said how boring and repetitious our performance had been. And it was true! The ring of truth just knocked me backward; I was in a restaurant and I fainted. After I woke up, I immediately decided that it was the end of the band.” (RS #450, 1985)

Is it an exaggeration to say that Jon Landau’s review broke up Cream? There may have been other factors, but it’s pretty clear that it had an effect.

Continue reading 50 Years Ago in Rolling Stone: Issue 10

Eric Clapton – The 1960’s Review

Eric Clapton - The 1960's ReviewEric ClaptonThe 1960’s Review (Sexy Intellectual)

When I was growing up, Eric Clapton was always held in high esteem by my father, and he instilled in me an almost immediate respect for the guitarist. He taught me that bands like Cream and Blind Faith were more than just rock bands, they were “super groups.”

In terms of Clapton’s own legacy, the sole record Clapton did with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers became Dad’s ultimate go-to record as proof of Eric’s dexterity.

“You know that someone spray painted ‘Clapton is God’ on a wall because of his playing on ‘Beano,'” he’d tell me, before explaining the meaning of “Beano.” For years, I thought the Mayall/Clapton Bluesbreakers was actually called “Beano” and became dismayed when I could never find the album of the same name.

Since I was prewired to appreciate Clapton, there was almost an instinctual attraction toward a new documentary on his early years. The unauthorized dvd, The 1960’s Review, focuses on the guitarist’s formative years, when his talent was untarnished by later career decisions that undermined the man’s credibility.

Continue reading Eric Clapton – The 1960’s Review

Lost Classics: Delaney and Bonnie and Friends – On Tour With Eric Clapton

Delaney and Bonnie and Friends - On Tour With Eric ClaptonDelaney & Bonnie & FriendsOn Tour With Eric Clapton (Atco)

One of the saddest things about the recent passing of Delaney Bramlett last month was how overlooked it was. It’s not just that Delaney’s stock plummeted shortly after his early ’70s heyday with wife Bonnie Bramlett, it’s also because one of the duo’s most notable releases—one that features the greatest line-up of blue-eyed soul musicians ever assembled mixing it up with one of the best guitarists ever—has been quietly forgotten by all but the most devoted of fans.

The uninitiated only need to hear Delaney & Bonnie‘s On Tour with Eric Clapton to discover how unfortunate this slight is. The eight-song release captured the band at what may be the highpoint of its career, complete with a once-in-a-lifetime sit-in by none other than “God” himself laying out some wonderfully exciting fretwork.

Continue reading Lost Classics: Delaney and Bonnie and Friends – On Tour With Eric Clapton

Shoplifters Of The World Unite

I Was a Teenaged ShoplifterKids today. With their filesharing, anonymously hiding behind their campus IP address, stealing music in their fucking underwear. It’s embarrassing when you consider the art form that generations before them had to perfect just to get free music.

We called it shoplifting.

Don’t worry. I’m not about to steal your iPod at work or lift your Xanax prescription if you invite me over to your place. I’m not especially proud of my prior delinquency, but I understand that it is a part of me and my musical collective.

Continue reading Shoplifters Of The World Unite

Consolation for the Old Groom, Now Forgotten

Clapton is...Eric ClaptonComplete Clapton (Reprise)

For some of us, partial obscurity is a badge of honor. Or of authenticity. The fundamental belief is that because a few of us have discovered something, what we have sussed out is better than if all of us do. It’s like this. We find it. Like it. We know that anyone with half a sensibility would like it, too, if they’re aware of it. So we don’t want them to know because if everyone likes something then it is, almost by default, no longer exceptional. While it is never the case that everyone likes anything, we still like it if the artists and musicians that we like are not liked by the great audio unwashed.

Now what may happen is that those whom we like get discovered by more people. At some point—and when this point occurs is something that is indefinable yet perceived—the level of popularity is such that we have “lost” those whom we once revered. The obscurity has been traded way.

And so we turn our backs and wander off, seeking out that which has yet to be embraced by the many. And the performer(s) in question make it, if not big, then at least bigger.

Which brings me to Eric Clapton.

Continue reading Consolation for the Old Groom, Now Forgotten

Eric Clapton Interview

The Chicago Tribune‘s Greg Kot gets a surprisingly candid interview with Eric Clapton:

“I think I deliberately sold out a couple of times. I picked the songs that I thought would do well in the marketplace, even though I didn’t really love the song. But that’s been kind of limited. I feel I’ve been very true to my principles, even the way I sing.”

Via gb.

Also, while we’re at it, check out excerpts from Eric Clapton’s famous 1968 sit-down with the Stone‘s Jann Wenner:

Eric Clapton – 1968 interview (Part 1)

Eric Clapton – 1968 interview (Part 2)

Eric Clapton – 1968 interview (Part 3)