So far in my desert island list I've gone to my favorite artists and picked which CD of theirs I'd most want to take along. That is as opposed to looking specifically at CDs and judging each on their own merit. I expect to think about things this way for a few more weeks since I've already started and it makes sense to me to do it this way (and it's easier). So this week I turn my attention to an artist that I first became familiar with when as an eighth grader I heard "Sunshine of Your Love" on the radio. This was 1968 and that song served as my intro to blues-based guitar music. I listened to friends' copies of Cream's Disraeli Gears (which will likely show up on this list down the road) and
soon bought Eric Clapton's album with his new band, Blind Faith. I've missed only a few of his albums since – and there have been a lot. So picking one of Clapton's solo recordings is a challenge. The obvious choices, perhaps, are Layla (although it is really a Derek and the Dominoes album so I could get away with picking that one later too,) his two mid-career highlights, 461 Ocean Boulevard and Slowhand (but I think they are not his best,) or the album where he seemed to find his way as a guitar hero again, Journeyman and the album that re-launched him into the mainstream, Unplugged. But, having seen Eric's show less than a year ago and having paid attention to him for quite some time I think that, live at least, he's in as good a place as he's ever been. His shows are consistently great and he's got a wealth of material to choose from. That is why for this week's pick I am choosing his most recent live album, One More Car, One More Rider.
Like Matt, I'm a bit wary of choosing a live album because they can be little more than greatest hits compilations with clapping. But this 2-disc set shows Eric with a crack band playing at the height of his game. He does an acoustic set which features what I think is the definitive version of "Change the World." It blows the studio recording completely out of the water. It also gives added life to the songs from Pilgrim which suffered from a bit of production woes – the use of drum machine, for example, and Clapton's guitar tone made the album, which had some great songs, feel a bit brittle. But on One More Car songs like "River of Tears" have an amazing amount of emotion. Clapton's singing is spot on and his guitar just soars. Add a killer set list, ending with a wonderful rendition of "Over the Rainbow" – yes, that "Over the Rainbow" – and you have what I think is Clapton's best album.
The version of the album that I bought came with a DVD of the whole show too – and you get to see the late Billy Preston in the band singing his hit "Will it Go Round in Circles" which isn't on the album. You should see it just to watch Billy dance.
There are so far three more friends joining me on my desert Island journey. Special thanks to new list makers Matt and Jim for playing along. Check their developing lists:
My Complete Desert Island List (so far):