Eric Clapton's Top 10 Greatest Blues Recordings, Part 1 - by J. Blake

Posted on 9/14/2010 by J. Blake

(New York, NY)

Whether you’re a fan of his work or not, Eric Clapton is an artist that has never strayed too far from his blues roots and continues to be one of the genre’s strongest supporters.

He has been called “God” and “Slowhand”, but probably more than any other name, his fans refer to him simply as “Clapton”. With his latest release on the horizon, a double-album also named CLAPTON, it seems only natural to look back at his accomplished career and acknowledge some of his achievements.

For the next two weeks I am going to countdown the “Top 10 Greatest Officially Released Clapton Blues Recordings of All Time.” Compiling such a list has been extremely difficult and painstaking. Clapton’s career is immense and he has made hundreds of blues recordings. I apologize in advance if your favorites haven’t made the list.

10. “Voodoo Chile” [from Eric Clapton & Steve Winwood LIVE FROM MADISON SQUARE GARDEN (2009)] Over three nights in NYC, Clapton answered the question that had been on so many fans’ minds, “Can he still bring the fire?” The answer was (and continues to be) an undeniable YES!!! He may not conjure that flame as often as he used to, but over those three original concert dates with Winwood, Clapton brought his “A-game” and thankfully we have a CD and DVD to prove it.

As a lucky member of one of those MSG audiences, I can tell you firsthand that the performance of “Voodoo Chile” was both a welcome surprise and incredibly moving. It followed an exceptionally poignant rendition of Hendrix’s “Little Wing” and from its opening few notes it was quite clear that both Clapton and Winwood were on a mission to pay the best tribute they could, to their fallen friend. Winwood’s vocals were spot on and Clapton attacked the song with passion and fury; like he was exorcising his inner demons. Needless to say, if he was, he left them on the stage that night.

9. “Outside Woman Blues” [from Cream’s BBC SESSIONS (2003)] Clapton’s arrangement of this Blind Joe Reynolds classic has never been one of Cream’s most popular songs, but it remains a favorite of guitarists across the globe. Recorded on October 24, 1967 for BBC 1’s Top Gear, this particular version made its rounds on bootlegs for years, before becoming officially released in 2003. It stands apart from the original studio recording, due to its slower delivery, thick and crunchy guitar tone and its slightly extended and more aggressive classic Cream-era Clapton solo.

8. “Steppin’ Out” [from John Mayall’s BLUES BREAKERS WITH ERIC CLAPTON (1966)] Even with so many great performances on one album, this lively instrumental still manages to standout as something incredibly special. “Hideaway” came very close to taking this slot on the list, but this future live Cream standard managed to triumph. The rhythm section is as tight as they can be and Clapton’s thick Les Paul tone is like crunchy velvet (an oxymoron if there ever was one). He plays with the energy and attitude of youth and the precision of a master; an amazing 2 minutes and 30 seconds of raw electric guitar blues power.

7. “Come Back Baby” [from REPTILE (2001)] A Ray Charles cover from a relatively ignored solo album, this performance of “Come Back Baby” plays to all of Clapton’s strengths as a vocalist. He delivers the lyric with guttural intensity. He keeps his guitar solo short and makes every perfectly executed note count. It is a track that would have felt at home of 1994’s FROM THE CRADLE even though it manages to capture even more energy than the bulk of those recordings. It is a wonderful track by Clapton, that commonly gets overlooked.

6. “Groaning The Blues” [from FROM THE CRADLE (1994)] With an album chuck-full of amazing blues, Clapton somehow managed to peak with its closing track; an intense and emotionally charged cover of Otis Rush’s “Groaning The Blues”. Its slow 12-bar groove drags with perfection. His vocal delivery is passionate and pained and his guitar work is ferocious; an amazing display of blues prowess.

Check back next week as we countdown the Top 5!!!

If you enjoyed this article, you may also enjoy: Derek & The Dominos Live In Philly

Thanks and keep reading American Blues News and also check out Media Wah Wah for more of this writer’s thoughts and opinions about Movies, Music, TV & More.

Copyright © 2010 - J. Blake. All Rights Reserved

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