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There's One In Every Crowd
Eric Clapton

RSO 4801
Released: July 1975
Chart Peak: #21
Weeks Charted: 14

Eric ClaptonEric Clapton's sense of well-being is reiterated on There's One in Every Crowd, but on this album it seems less a cause for joy than an occasion for musical indifference. As on 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton plays guitar with utilitarian economy but here it is also without the ring of purposeful authority. As on its predecessor, the lack of riveting or attention-drawing guitar work places the primary focus on Clapton's singing, which through experience, growing confidence and a touching candor has become as distinctive and as eloquent as his playing. But where Clapton sounded either quietly tormented or beatifically serene, on lthe last album, through most of the new one he sounds only lanquid or charming.

The album's opening pair of spirituals generates little energy or feeling. The ensemble (the same as on 461) affects a Motel Shot sort of casualness but lacks spark. Compared with the stirring religious/psychological songs of before, "We've Been Told (Jesus Coming Soon)" sounds redundant, while the reggae "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" is clever but static.

Eric Clapton - There's One In Every Crowd
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The next pair comes off slightly better. "Little Rachel" is a sequel to "Willie and the Hand Jive" but without the earlier work's smoldering innuendo. "Don't Blame Me" is the sequel to Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff." The band, especially the exceptional timekeeping drummer, Jamie Oldaker, lends the right blend of the ominous and sprightly, but Clapton can only partialy restate, let alone advance, the earlier song's mood.

By now the record is at least up and moving. On the fifth track, a remake of Elmore James's "The Sky Is Crying," you'd expect Clapton to play some guitar. But he conceives of this classic blues as a vocally centered one. He establishes the mood through his slightly boozy, offhanded statement of the melody. And when he finally solos, it's in the same mellow mood. It's nice but safe and I expected more.

The second side contains the album's justification, a quartet of Clapton originals, generally in the mode of 461's "Let It Grow." Taken in sequences, "Better Make It Through Today" is the album's simplest and best song. It contains his most moving vocal and although it only recapitulates the struggle between resignation and faith that resonated out of "Give Me Strength," it does so with coherent and unquestionable intensity.

"Pretty Blue Eyes" and "High" balance lilting Allmanesque instrumental passages off against slowed, moody sections. They seem to float by without every really introducing themselves. They do lead into the related but more substantial "Opposites," the lyric of which describes the same dialect as "Turn! Turn! Turn!" and the music of which grows in vertical layers to an instrumental resolution of elegance and near grandeur.

Even here I get the feeling that Clapton is holding back more than necessary. Where there is conviction on There's One in Every Crowd, there's still no growth, no strain, no sense of challenge. Clapton also fails to challenge us; and it is the challenges he's issued to himself and to us, much more than his virtuosity, that have made him a pantheon artist. Those hwo have been moved by Clapton's work would be acting unfairly if they demanded Layla every time he recorded. But it's also unfair not to expect some new challenge. On this album he doesn't offer any.

- Bud Scoppa, Rolling Stone, 5/22/75.

Bonus Reviews!

You may think the first surprise here is going to be the laid-back and very stony rock version of "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," but Eric Clapton has already pulled one on you by then. It has to do with what about the album makes the first impression, which is not song selection and not the fluidity and smoothness associated with Clapton's guitar. What makes the first impression is rhythm, and it makes a good one for a while, before the repetitions build up. Even then, the thing retains a sprightly character and gives Clapton's guitar in a jaunty atmosphere to march around in. It slices through the material in a fierce shuffle. Clapton is one of the electric guitar's real communicators, working-class pretty and working-class sentimental, but smooth as a mile of velvet and not overly experimental with the sound-effect capabilities of his machine. Bless him for that. His songwriting and song selection, not quite one and the same here, seem erratic to me and will probably seem tastefully erratic to others. Sometimes the tune here makes up for "I Shot the Sheriff" and sometimes it doesn't. I have trouble with Clapton's voice too -- it reminds me of too many other singers, but I guess I can juxtapose that with the way other guitar players remind me of Clapton -- but he uses it effectively, in what seems a sidekick-to-the-guitar role. Throughout, he has his eye on the blues and simplicity and and has a way of coming up with nice things, such as the Joe Cocker growl he puts on "The Sky Is Crying." Not that anyone would want to miss his guitar on a breezy little tear like this anyhow.

- Noel Coppage, Stereo Review, 7/75.

Rather a strange potpourri of material from Clapton, mixing reggae, traditional blues, traditional gospel, and some easygoing rockers. Closer to the last LP, 461 Ocean Boulevard, than anything else in his career, and while the set is well done, some of the spark that showed up in the previous album is missing. Fans who still cling to some hope of long, bluesy guitar solos can forget it here. Still, the set is a worthy effort; vocal accompaniment from Yvonne Elliman is as frequent and good as on her last Clapton project and the fine band (especially keyboardist Dick Sims) provides a good cushion for the soft Clapton vocals. Expect strong FM response initially. Best cuts: "Little Rachel," "The Sky Is Crying," "Singin' The Blues," "Pretty Blue Eyes," "Don't Blame Me."

- Billboard, 1975.

This is the J.J. Cale record we were afraid Eric was going to make (ho-hum) when he signed up those Leon Russell sidemen (yawn) for 461 Ocean Boulevard. Only for J.J. (think I'll turn in) the nice tunes come naturally. C+

- Robert Christgau, Christgau's Record Guide, 1981.

Having stayed out of the recording studio for four years prior to making his comeback album, 461 Ocean Boulevard, Eric Clapton returned to recording only a few months later to make its follow-up, There's One in Every Crowd. Perhaps he hadn't had time to write or gather sufficient material to make a similarly effective album, since the result is a scattershot mixture of styles, leading off with two gospel tunes, one a reggae version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." Clapton and his second guitarist, George Terry, had written a sequel to "I Shot The Sheriff," "Don't Blame Me," which Clapton sang in his best impersonation of Bob Marley's voice. The album's best track, naturally, was the blues cover, Clapton's take on Elmore James's "The Sky Is Crying." But There's One in Every Crowd was a disappointing follow-up to 461 Ocean Boulevard, and fans let Clapton know it: while the former album had topped the charts and gone gold, the latter didn't even make the Top Ten. * *

- William Ruhlmann, The All-Music Guide to Rock, 1995.

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