Atco SD 33-329
Released: July 1970
Chart Peak: #13
Weeks Charted: 30
"Bet you didn't think I knew how to rock and roll..."
Well, to tell you the truth, Eric, we had begun to wonder. What with all the running around you've been doing of late, we'd begun to worry that you'd become just another studio musician, hobnobbing with the rich and famous. After all, overexposure to Leon Russell has been known to turn some people into wind-up tambourine-beating rocknroll dolls.
But no. Even though it's a "supersession," even though the personnel is liberally salted with old Delaney and Bonnie Friends, it comes off as a warm, friendly record of the kind I haven't heard since the first Delaney and Bonnie album. Of the tunes, we have some good old tambourine beaters, one beautiful all-acoustic piece authored entirely by Clapton (most of the rest are by him and Delaney Bramlett, who produced), and a bunch of simply delightful D&B-styled gospel-type numbers, which, unlike a lot of the recent attempts in this genre, succeed because they build sensibly to a climax rather than indulging in the type of excess that spoiled Leon Russell's album, at least for me.
Clapton's voice is a revelation. He'd been scared to use it before because he thought it was terrible, but Delaney told him that his voice was a gift from God, and if he didn't use it, maybe God would take it away from him. Which, I thought, is maybe a nice way of saying "Well, maybe it ain't too hot, but you should sing along anyway." But Clapton's voice is just fine; rough and unfinished, maybe, but it adds to the rustic quality of the music.
Sure I did, Eric. And you play a mean guitar, too.
- Ed Ward, Rolling Stone, 9/30/70.
After all those super-blues-groups bursting in and out of earshot, grouping and regrouping, it was only a matter of time before one single star would spin off into an orbit of his own. All too predictably his name is Eric Clapton, the English super-guitarist who has, phenomenally, earned a place next to the other blues greats of past and present like B. B King, Muddy Waters, and Howlin' Wolf.
Evidently Eric doesn't really enjoy being alone up there on his dais, for he brought along his friends Delaney and Bonnie to assist in this "solo" bow. I am amazed that a talent of his magnitude needs the comfort and confidence of these two exponents of the country-and-western bubble-gum school. The majority of songs presented here were written by Bramlett (Delaney) and Clapton and were arranged by Bramlett as well. The mighty Leon Russell is on piano, Bonnie Bramlett is in the cover's photograph (so I assume she's about in the songs somewhere), and the remaining ensemble is studded with formidable musicians from the pop scene. The result is a highly amusing and listenable musical style. The entire album affects me much the same way as those of D. and B.: while the record plays, I bop around grooving on it, but the moment it's over, I forget it. And I think that's a terrible waste of Eric Clapton's potential. Clapton has repeatedly shown he has his finger on a new musical form of blues, but for the moment he has settled for commercial success via the currently appealing vein of country music overlaid with a heavy rock-blues tempo. This record is so chock full of talent it can't miss as a must in any young kid's collection of dance discs. Maybe, soon, Clapton will have the security to stand alone and bring out the album that truly deserves the title "Eric Clapton."
- Rex Reed, Stereo Review, 10/70.
Eric Clapton is one of rock's leading figures and this LP gets a heavy greeting at the outset and a big pickup as the grooves get exposed. His guitar and vocal work are standout and for added sales pull there's help from such "friends" as Delaney & Bonnie, Leon Russell, Stephen Stills, and John Simon.
- Billboard, 1970.
One great r&b instrumental ("Slunky"), two tracks that deserve classic status ("After Midnight" and "Let It Rain"), two that don't ("Bottle of Red Wine" and "Blues Power"), and well-played filler. I blame a conceptual error, rather than Clapton's uncertain singing, for the overall thinness. As a sideman, Clapton slipped into producer Delaney Bramlett's downhome bliss as easily as he did into Cream's blues dreamscape, but as a solo artist he can't simulate Delaney's optimism. I mean, a party song called "Blues Power" from a man with a hellhound on his trail? B
- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.
The band of Delaney & Bonnie backed Clapton on his first solo outing. Naturally, the results are much closer to their style than to Cream. Although Clapton sings about "Blues Power," the heart of this album is in rock & roll. * * * *
- Stephen Thomas Erlewine, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.
Eric Clapton is loose and filled with great playing, though it in many ways sounds more like a Delaney Bramlett album than a Clapton recording. * * * 1/2
- Alan Paul, Musichound Rock: The Essential Album Guide, 1996.
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