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  Listen Up! 1/15/04 Listen Up!

Thursday, Jan. 15

Eric Clapton, “Blues,” Polydor Records. Clapton was alright until he fell under the spell of J.J. Cale and reggae back in the 70s. Not that there’s anything wrong with either of those influences, just that he managed to take away the least attractive insights from each. Basically, it all boils down to the fact that he thinks understatement is so important as to overrule any possibility of connection with the music under any circumstances. So, while he continues to act like he’s some tortured bluesman, he really just sounds like a nice old English gentleman playing these folk songs from across the pond. It’s like some sort of BBC documentary that doesn’t have anything new to bring to the table, and doesn’t particularly care about that problem. Right, we’re gonna forge on, anyway. In the 60s, Clapton was over-rated, but tolerable. Then he made a masterpiece when he did the “Layla” album – and even that was largely because Duane Allman lit a fire under his ass – before fading into complete irrelevance. I can think of about 4000 more interesting guitarists and 12,000 more interesting singers than this laconic let-down. This collection came out a few years ago, and it’s full of proof of what I’m saying.

--Steve Pick

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